Education Week - August 19, 2015 - (Page 25)

Three State Elections Fueling Debates About Common Core, Money Matters CONTINUED FROM PAGE 22 and pushed their states to ditch the controversial standards. But only three GOP governors-Mike Pence of Indiana, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Nikki Haley of South Carolina- can accurately claim to have repealed them, at least nominally, through legislation they've signed. And N TIO in Indiana and ELEC South Carolina, the state boards ultimately adopted standards that in many instances have strong similarities with the common core. Oklahoma hasn't adopted replacement standards yet. It's still not clear, however, what Bevin thinks would replace the common core, said Richard Innes, an education analyst for the Bluegrass Institute, a nonprofit organization that opposes the common core. "Will that result in every single common-core standard being thrown out? I doubt it," Innes said of a Bevin victory in November. "But I do think it will result in some important changes." In addition, Bevin could also dramatically alter the direction of state K-12 policy simply because he'll have the power to pick new state board of education members. Kentucky is one of seven states that 2015 BLOGS do not have laws permitting charter schools. Bevin has expressed support not only for the state to allow charter schools, but for the state to create a voucher program as well. Conway is a voucher opponent, meanwhile, but says he supports charters as long as they don't sap resources from traditional public schools. In an email, Conway campaign spokesman Daniel Kemp said a top priority for the candidate is to craft a plan "that expands and supports educational opportunities for students and makes certain that every child in Kentucky has access to high-quality, early-childhood education." But Conway has yet to provide specifics about those plans. Bevin has criticized Head Start funding and has expressed skepticism about the long-term impact of early-childhood programs. Louisiana's Crowded Field In Louisiana, the common core's future is subject to different political pressures. That political atmosphere begins with the election process: The state has a "jungle primary," in which the top two vote-getters in the October primary election, regardless of party, will square off in the November general election. Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican who, like Beshear, is term-limited, " If they ... say, 'We reject [the common-core review], we want you to do this all over again,' then the political fight is going to start all over again." STEPHANIE DESSELLE Vice President, Council for a Better Louisiana next year. But two of the GOP candidates, U.S. Sen. David Vitter and state Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, are adamantly opposed, although Vitter is a former proponent of the common core. The main Democrat in the race, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, has been skeptical of the standards. Among the top four candidates, only Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne supports them. However, the governor's election is just one of many in Louisiana this year. The election of new members to political bodies, and they say, 'We reject [the common-core review], we want you to do this all over again,' then the political fight is going to start all over again," said Stephanie Desselle, a vice president for the Council for a Better Louisiana, a nonprofit advocacy group that supports the standards. Mississippi Funding Questions Incumbent Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, running for a second term, has enjoyed strong polling when matched up against at least one Democratic candidate earlier this year, and could be on course for an easy re-election. His Democratic opponent is Robert Gray, who has no prior political experience but won an upset in the party primary election. Gray has said he favors spending more money on schools. Bryant vetoed a bill initiating a common-core review because he said it was not the full repeal he wanted. The state board subsequently began its own review any way. Bryant signed a new charter school law in 2013 that allows up to 15 new charters to be approved by the state each year, as well as a new accountability system using A-F school grades in 2012. Perhaps the most contentious K-12 issue on the ballot isn't directly attached to a candidate. Initiative 42, placed on the ballot through petition signatures, would require the state to pay for an "adequate and efficient" system of schools by fully financing the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the K-12 funding formula. It also specifies that the courts have power to oversee that such funding meets the legal standards. Legislators have balked at the initiative. They say Initiative 42 gives too much power over K-12 funding to the legal system rather than to the legislature. Lawmakers placed their own initiative on the ballot, Alternative 42, that would give the legislature the power to maintain an "efficient" system of schools. Indiana Preschool Program Bans Undocumented Children | EARLY YEARS | Children who are living in Indiana illegally will not be allowed to enroll in that state's new preschool program. Nor will they be allowed to enroll in Indianapolis' new city-based program, which Mayor Greg Ballard has touted as a solution to kindergarten readiness for low-income families in his city. In her story explaining the citizen-only policy for Chalkbeat Indiana, Hayleigh Colombo nails the key question on the head: "How can public schools be barred from excluding those kids while publicly funded preschool programs are free to do so?" Apparently, it's because the federal policy requiring that public schools serve all comers extends only as far down as kindergarten, leaving states to do as they will on preschool. "This maintains consistency in policy among our earlychildhood-education programs," Jim Gavin, a spokesman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, told Chalkbeat. He said other state funds for early-childhood education also require proof of citizenship. Despite the policy, there has been some effort to reach out to families who do not speak English as a first language. Applications for Indianapolis' public preschool program were sent out in four languages. Colombo found at least one public school that has found a work-around to accept noncitizens; the school uses federal dollars to fund some preschool spots for children who don't qualify for state-funded spots. -LILLIAN MONGEAU Principals in Wisconsin Complain About Walker's K-12 Policies STATE EDWATCH | Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker may be slogging away on the presidential campaign trail, but a group of his state's principals haven't let their grievances with him (and state education policy) fall by the wayside. | failed in his push to get the legislature to repeal the standards. The state school board has undertaken a public review of the common core, and any alterations to the standards stemming from that review are due early the state legislature who oppose the common core could upend the board's review process. (The legislature is currently controlled by Republicans.) In addition, eight of the 11 seats on the state school board are up for election. Jindal has pledged to fight for anti-common-core candidates. To what extent he is doing so amidst his presidential campaign, however, is unclear. "If they become anti-common-core A group of 35 principals wrote to Walker last month arguing that in the current policy and political climate, districts simply don't have the resources and support to provide what they should to students. And as a result of policy shifts stretching back over 20 years, these district leaders say, school boards have not only lost the local control considered vital by many communities, but the "competitive business model" now governing education will lead to "segregated schools." The governor is famous for successfully pushing to strip public employees, including teachers, of most of their collective bargaining rights in 2011. But Walker also cut about $800 million in state aid to K-12 in the two-year budget he signed the same year. At the same time, the state also adopted lower property-tax caps for districts that cut into their ability to raise revenue. The most recent budget Walker signed gives a slight boost to education over the 2013-15 biennial budget, although Walker had initially floated a $127 million cut to K-12 education in his proposed spending plan. And once again, lawmakers decided not to raise local tax caps. But what's been Walker's counterargument? Districts have been given more control, not less, over their budgets, he says, and starting teachers' salaries have gone up. As for the competitive-business model that the principals say they fear damages public schools? Walker has expanded private school vouchers' influence-for example, he eliminated the previous cap on vouchers and made them available on a statewide basis. Then there's the governance grievance. The principals reference reduced local control over curriculum, testing, and other matters. "Governor Walker, you speak of the need to reduce 'Big Government,' and we see that you are doing so as it relates to eliminating positions in government, but the 'power of the people, by the people, for the people' is less in people's hands than it once was," the principals wrote, referencing what they see as the denuded power of locally elected school boards. "... These respected school board members have far less control over local decisions than they did in the past." -ANDREW UJIFUSA Education Department Grants More Waivers: 33 and Counting | POLITICS K-12 | Make that 33. The U.S. Department of Education last week approved additional renewals of state flexibility from the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act for Maine and Michigan. Both states received three-year renewals through the 2017-18 school year, meaning they won't have to request another extension during President Barack Obama's tenure (if waivers last that long). In its renewal-approval letter, the department commended Maine on increasing the number of districts that are participating in coaching and mentoring, as well as on its principal-leadership development. It also praised the Cross Discipline Literacy Network program, which provides professional development and support for literacy in various content areas. In addition, the department lauded the state education department for offering "a wide range of supports for school districts and schools, including models for educator evaluation systems, workshops to support local implementation and trainings on various aspects of educator evaluation systems." Notably, in June, Maine dropped out of the Smarter Balanced testing consortium that provided the common-corealigned assessments students took this past spring. As for Michigan, the Education Department applauded its increased use of data to help priority and focus schools (the lowest-performing in the state) make decisions regarding how to best reach and intervene with students who are falling behind. Waiver renewals have been rolling in as the summer draws to a close. Only the week before, the Education Department granted renewals to seven states-Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. These latest two leave just nine states waiting in the wings. -LAUREN CAMERA EDUCATION WEEK | August 19, 2015 | | 25

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - August 19, 2015

Education Week - August 19, 2015
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Rookie Principals’ Group Sheds Light on Early-Career Challenges
Education Week Acquires Television Production Company
Historians See AP U.S. History Revisions as ‘Evenhanded’
Handcuffing of Students Reignites Debate On Use of Restraint
Study Casts Doubt on Impact of Teacher Professional Development
Teachers Use Minecraft to Fuel Creative Ideas, Analytical Thinking
Blogs of the Week
Education Stakes Are High in Ky., La., and Miss. Governor Races
Accountability 3.0: What Will State Systems Look Like?
Budget Deadline Could Put Education Programs at Risk
Blogs of the Week
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
How Do We Help Students With Mental-Health Issues Return to School?
Lessons From Successful School Improvement Grants
2005: In the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
Do We Need Quality Assurance for Teacher Feedback?

Education Week - August 19, 2015