Education Week - August 6, 2014 - (Page 1)

Education WEEk VOL. 33, NO. 37 * AUGUST 6, 2014 AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4 BREAKING NEWS DAILY WAR ON POVERTY: Progress & Persistent Inequity Standards Persist Amid Controversy By Andrew Ujifusa Opponents of the Common Core State Standards got a boost in recent weeks, as Missouri and North Carolina moved to reassess their involvement, while the governors of Utah and Wisconsin distanced themselves from the standards. Less clear is what exactly those opponents have won. The early pattern suggests that the common standards could undergo some relatively minor changes but still persist in states where opposition has led to high-profile bills and big headlines. The formal structures that buttress the standards, and the related tests from two federally funded consortia, have eroded somewhat, as states reconsider their adoptions of the standards and reject the common tests. And common-core advocates have other worries-most notably, whether states, districts, and schools have done enough to make sure the standards work well in classrooms. However, so far there is little sign and not a great deal of precedent that the states backing away from the comPAGE 21> LUNCH GAP: Nicohles, Destiny, and Desiree Kleis, from left, eat lunch inside the lunch bus in Pasco County, Fla. A growing number of school districts are creating mobile meals programs to keep children well-fed over the summer. PAGE 13 Focus on Youngest, Neediest Endures Ambition, Pitfalls Intersect in Head Start By Christina A. Samuels Few other federal programs so fully embody the heady optimism and charge-ahead spirit of the War on Poverty as Head Start, envisioned 50 years ago as part of that sweeping presidential initiative and brought to life in the summer of 1965. "Five- and 6-year-old children are inheritors of poverty's curse and not its creators," President Lyndon B. Johnson said in a May 1965 speech in the White House Rose Garden, announcing the creation of a federally funded preschool program for the nation's poorest children. "Unless we act, these children will pass it on to the next generation, like a family birthmark." But the seeds of questions that Head Start has faced throughout its history were in many ways contained in its ambitious beginning. Launched as an eight-week demonstration program with more than half a million children, Project Head Start would be expanded to a full-year program three months later. Over its nearly half-century in existence, the program has touched more than 31 million infants, todPAGE 12 > ABOUT THIS SERIES: This package of stories is the third in an occasional series of articles in Education Week reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty and its impact on the lives of children and their educational prospects. See Page 3 for a listing of stories in this special section. U.S. Testing Reviews To Enter New Phase By Catherine Gewertz The U.S. Department of Education is on the verge of releasing the first draft of new guidance on the peerreview process for standards and tests, a document that could exert a powerful influence on how states set academic expectations. Little known outside the assessment world, the process is wonky and technical. But it is an important tool for the federal agency in reviewing -and shaping-states' academic standards and testing systems. The draft of updated guidance, expected this month, arrives as most states are trying out or designing new tests to reflect the Common Core State Standards. The testing industry, which crafts those assessments, and state testing directors, who oversee their administration to millions of students, have been waiting anxiously for PAGE 22> DIGITAL DIRECTIONS E-Rate to Prioritize Wi-Fi, Abandon Outmoded Tech By Sean Cavanagh The Federal Communications Commission's recent makeover of the E-rate program is billed as a step toward transforming the fund from one focused on supporting 1990s-era telecommunication tools to one that accommodates 21st-century technologies. Now, school officials are trying to gauge what the new policies will mean for teachers, students, and their districts' bottom lines. The changes, approved in an fcc order on July 11, represent what some longtime observers of the E-rate describe as the most sweeping revisions in PAGE 9> AFT, NEA Agendas Converge as External, Internal Pressures Rise By Stephen Sawchuk & Liana Heitin What may end up being a new era for the teachers' unions began, fittingly, with a marriage. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was a guest of honor at incoming National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García's wedding, held concurrently with the nEa's Representative Assembly in Denver last month. A few weeks later, Ms. García gave a rousing speech to aft delegates on the final day of that union's convention, in Los Angeles. "The aft and the nEa will try to forge a new relationship," Ms. Weingarten said while introducing her counterpart. "Part of that is because our members, our communities, our families demand it. We're not going to be able to fight back ... unless we work shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand." While the actual degree of collaboration between the two unions remains to be seen, the conventions illustrated a remarkable policy convergence, portending what could indeed be a more unified response to national and state education issues. At their meetings, both the nEa and the aft passed resolutions targeting U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Both attacked the prominence of standardized-test scores in judging both students and teachers. And in recent months, both unions have qualified their support for the Common Core State Standards, especially as it pertains to implementation. The convergence, observers say, is the product not only of the unions' need to assume a defensive posture in the face of legislative and legal attacks, but also of the pressure brought by internal factions that have urged the unions to take a tougher stance against market-based education policies. New Elections To be sure, the differences between the unions remain stark and many, particularly in their internal structures. A national merger remains unlikely: NEa delegates firmly nixed that idea just last year, more than 15 years after voting down a formal merger proposal. But when it comes to topics like testing, PAGE 11> Melissa Lyttle for Education Week

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Education Week - August 6, 2014