Education Week - September 23, 2015 - (Page 14)

In Wide-Ranging Discussion, Duncan Mulls Issues, Agenda U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's sixth annual back-to-school bus tour took him through a swath of the nation's heartland- Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania-with stops that showcased the education spectrum from preschool to college. Education Week Assistant Editor Alyson Klein sat down with Duncan on the bus somewhere between Champaign, Ill., and West Lafeyette, Ind., for a conversation that touched on a range of issues, from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act renewal and low-performing schools to what he sees as his biggest regrets. Here are some excerpts, edited for clarity and brevity. A more complete transcript is available on the Politics K-12 blog. On Accountability Accountability means different things to different folks. What we're asking for in the [ESEA renewal] bill is not just data, which some would say is accountability, and not just transparency, which some would say is accountability, but actual action. And I think what we've been focused on the whole time with [No Child Left Behind Act] waivers is trying to transform low-performing schools. ... So what I'm interested in is ... taking action when there are massive achievement gaps. On School Improvement Grants We put $5 billion into turning around lowperforming schools, and that's an impressive investment. ... It hasn't all gone perfectly, but BLOGS we have high school [graduation] rates at alltime highs. ... Everywhere I go I see firsthand the difference it's making. For decades, these schools were just left to flounder and these children to drown. The fact that folks are encouraged to try and do this really important work, I think that's a really huge deal that, frankly, the media hasn't focused on. Alyson Klein/Education Week By Alyson Klein On NCLB Waivers One huge mistake was we spent a year and a half, two years trying to finish No Child Left Behind in 2009 and '10 and '11. We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours. And we knew the law was hurting children and hurting teachers. And we would have been crucified by Congress, saying we bypassed them if we hadn't spent that time, and so we thought we were doing the right thing. So at the end of the day, that was a big mistake. We failed. ... We let schools, we let kids suffer for another year. So, in hindsight, we should have done waivers earlier. On the Common-Core Scores What we're getting finally, for the first time in decades, is the truth, and we're assessing more critical-thinking skills . ...The fact that the truth hasn't been told for so long, and the fact that kids and parents have actually been lied to is one of the most insidious things in education. No one is that focused on [Common Core State Standards] scores, and we know this is going to be rocky or bumpy, but folks are trying to do the right thing. Folks are doing stuff that they've never done before, teaching to higher standards and trying to assess in U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made stops in five states on his sixth annual back-to-school bus tour, showcasing a variety of education issues. different ways. ... If we can keep high school graduation rates going in the right direction, if we can keep reducing dropout rates, that's a huge thing. to talk to real teachers, real students. That's why you have to travel and get outside of the sound bites. On His Regrets On His Priorities and Wish List I'd love to see Congress [invest more] in early-childhood education, fix No Child Left Behind. I would love to continue to see college become more affordable and accessible. I'd love to see high school graduation continue to rise. [Duncan noted that rates have risen not just overall, but for every subgroup of students over the past few years.] The challenge is how do we get better faster? On Criticism of His Record That's a Washington perspective. ... It's very important to actually talk to real teachers, that's why we do these bus tours to get out and see the impact of this stuff. ... You have I have not been able to get [a major investment in] early-childhood education [to gain much traction] in Congress. There's still tremendous unmet need. ... Another regret is the whole issue of gun violence which has haunted me since I was a little boy. The fact that we failed, that we utterly failed, to get Congress to do anything ... Japan, Europe, Australia-you just don't have the level of devastation and trauma and destroyed families. ... Third is just to get financial aid to undocumented students. That there are just these kids who've worked so hard and played by all the rules, and gotten good grades, and been community leaders, and we can't offer them federal financial aid. ... It's heartbreaking. ... I feel like I failed. Federal Judge Denies Injunction In Jindal's Common-Core Lawsuit | STATE EDWATCH | A federal judge has turned down Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's quest for a preliminary injunction to get the Common Core State Standards blocked on a national basis, stating that the standards don't represent an improper intrusion into education by Washington. In a lawsuit filed last year, Jindal, a Republican, claimed that the U.S. Department of Education illegally used the Race to the Top grant program to coerce states to adopt the standards. The governor also said in his suit that the standards were part of an illegal attempt by the federal government to intrude into classroom instruction, and that states faced punishment under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act if they tried to drop the standards. But in her 33-page ruling Sept. 16, Judge Shelly Dick of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana comprehensively rejected Jindal's arguments and denied Jindal's quest for a preliminary injunction to block the common core. Jindal's attorney announced that he will appeal Dick's ruling on his request for a preliminary injunction, the Associated Press reported. The attorney, Jimmy Faircloth, said, "the district court interprets the statutes to allow the federal government to construct a scheme to avoid clear, constitutionally based restrictions on federal authority over state sovereignty." On the subject of the Race to the Top grants, Dick wrote that, "the evidence showed that Jindal knowingly and enthusiastically committed the State to both the CCSS and the PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers] assessments, with full knowledge of their purposes, in order to receive federal RTT dollars. There is simply no evidence that the State of Louisiana 14 | EDUCATION WEEK | September 23, 2015 | was forced to apply for the RTT grant or forced to adopt a particular set of standards." Dick also wrote that states had received flexibility from the No Child Left Behind Act, the current incarnation of the ESEA, without adopting the common core, and had not lost federal money unfairly after deciding not to use the standards. (Oklahoma lost its NCLB waiver last year after dropping the common core, but regained it after the state's institutes of higher education signed off on the state's replacement standards, which happen to be the standards the state used right before the common core.) Jindal, a GOP presidential candidate, has led a multifront opposition to the common core in Louisiana, but so far with limited success. -ANDREW UJIFUSA Pre-K Inclusion Guidance Issued On Children With Disabilities | ON SPECIAL EDUCATION | All young children with disabilities should have access to high-quality preschool programs, and states and local programs both have a significant role to play in making that happen, says new guidance on creating inclusive preschool programs released by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health of Health and Human Services. In announcing earlier this year that they would develop the guidance, the two departments said that too often, young children with disabilities are provided preschool options that separate them from their typically developing peers, even though research suggests that inclusive settings are particularly helpful for such students. The Sept. 14 guidance includes recommendations that states plan for inclusion, ensure that quality-rating systems for early-childhood programs support inclusive practices, and make the inclusion of young children with disabilities part of the professional development system. Earlychildhood providers were urged, among other things, to partner with families on advocacy and policy development, ensure access to specialized supports, and collaborate with community partners. -CHRISTINA A. SAMUELS Ohio Charter-Management Firm Prevails in Equipment Dispute | THE SCHOOL LAW BLOG | Ohio's highest court has ruled that 10 charter schools must reimburse the school management company that formerly ran the schools for computers and other equipment purchased at taxpayer expense. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that contracts between the governing authorities of the schools in Cleveland and Akron and White Hat Management LLC, a charter-management firm that operated the schools beginning in 2005, require that the schools "buy back" certain equipment and supplies. The 10 schools are now closed, and their governing authorities-essentially nonprofit boards that still have control of the school buildings-sued White Hat and various subsidiaries. The school authorities claimed that the equipment belongs to them because it was purchased with state funds, while White Hat contends it retains the right to the property under the terms of the contract. In its Sept. 15 decision in Hope Academy Broadway Campus v. White Hat Management LLC, the state high court said that while it questioned the wisdom of the buyback contract terms, the contract was enforceable. "The schools were represented by their own legal counsel, and they agreed to the provisions in the contracts," the court majority said. The court said the trial court could consider the issue of the "unconscionability" of the contract. -MARK WALSH

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 23, 2015

Education Week - September 23, 2015
Research Agency Faces Deep Cuts In Budget Bills
Schools Seek Split From Confederacy
English-Learner Tests Moving to Digital Realm
Despite Research on Teens’ Sleep, Change to School Start Times Difficult
News in Brief
Report Roundup
To Combat Inequity, Ferguson Panel Urges K-12 Changes
Study: KIPP Confers an Edge in Academics But Not in Attitudes
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Online Credit Recovery in Need of Overhaul, Study Says
Blogs of the Week
From Pre-K to Higher Ed., Duncan Tour Touts Priorities
GOP Presidential Debaters Give Glancing Mention to Education
In Wide-Ranging Discussion, Duncan Mulls Issues, Agenda
ANN MYERS & JILL BERKOWICZ: STEM Doesn’t Narrow the Curriculum
MARY ANN ZEHR: Can a Former Journalist Teach English-Language Learners to Write?
GREG MILO: Why Do Students Hate History? Some Thoughts on the ‘Boring’ Social Studies
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
CAROL DWECK: Growth Mindset, Revisited

Education Week - September 23, 2015