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can accurately claim to have repealed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,
they've signed. And
in Indiana and
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
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
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."
Vice President, Council for a Better Louisiana
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
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
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.
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,
"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
"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
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
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.
EDUCATION WEEK | August 19, 2015 | www.edweek.org | 25
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - August 19, 2015
Education Week - August 19, 2015
News in Brief
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