Education Week - October 23, 2013 - (Page 15)
sal pre-kindergarten program.
On the other hand, the House educa-
tion spending bill was considered by some
GOP lawmakers to be so skimpy that they
balked at unveiling it.
Under the deal to reopen the govern-
ment, the nearly 4,000 Education Department
employees who had been furloughed
returned to work. They will get back pay
as part of the budget agreement.
Employees returned to a mile-long to-do
list that includes examining 219 applications
for the latest round of Race to the
Top grant competition for districts, and
taking a look at applications for a piece
of the $280 million Race to the Top program
for early learning, plus assisting
states with monitoring and renewal of
their waivers from provisions under the
No Child Left Behind Act.
"I know that you're coming back to
even more work than you already had
on your plate before the department
had to shut down," U.S. Secretary of
Education Arne Duncan wrote in a
memo to his staff on Oct. 17, the day
the government reopened. "Emails have
piled up. Voicemails will be waiting for
your callback. Projects are falling behind
Head Start Losses
Meanwhile, Head Start was a highprofile
victim of the shutdown. Twentythree
programs receive their annual
federal funding in October, and several
were forced to close during the budget
impasse, until a pair of Houston-based
philanthropists, John and Lauren Arnold,
came forward with a $10 million grant to
tide them over. The Arnolds will get their
money back if Head Start grantees are
funded retroactively to Oct. 1, the start
of the shutdown.
Dora Jones, the director of the Talladega,
Ala.-based Talladega Clay Randolph
Child Care Corp., a Head Start
grantee serving 770 children, said last
week that she was expecting information
soon about a resumption of funding. The
six centers that the grantee runs had to
close for six days before reopening with
funds provided by the Arnolds. "We have
not lost any children as a result," Ms.
Jones said, though some families had to
pay for other care providers while the
center was closed.
Impact Aid Payments
The end of the shutdown also came just
in time to spare the 1,200 school districts
that receive roughly $1 billion in federal
Impact Aid, which is one of a handful of
federal K-12 programs that rely on payments
made throughout the school year.
In times of budget uncertainty, districts
that are heavily dependent on Impact Aid
often ask the Education Department to
process their payments early-but in this
case, there was no one around to send out
the checks, said John Forkenbrock, the executive
director of the National Association
of Federally Impacted Schools. That meant
some Impact Aid districts were beginning
to hit the panic button, he said, with at
least one worried about making payroll.
With the shutdown concluded, Mr.
Forkenbrock expects that his association
will be able to work with the department
to get Impact Aid dollars first to the districts
that need them most.
"We were right on the bubble, in terms
of whether or not there was going to be
major damage," Mr. Forkenbrock said.
Impact Aid districts, which tend to be
more reliant on federal funding than others,
are closely watching the debate over
whether to turn off sequestration, Mr.
Forkenbrock added. Districts were largely
able to handle the first round of cuts by
delaying purchases and tapping reserve
funds, he said. But if the cuts to education
spending get deeper, those districts could
run into real trouble.
"We could have some schools that would
have to lay off teachers in the middle of
the school year," he said.
Staff Writer Christina A. Samuels contributed
to this story.
Nakia Wallace, center, a Detroit high school student, protests at the U.S. Supreme Court in support of
affirmative action. The high court is weighing a Michigan law barring its use in higher education.
Appeal Argued on Affirmative-Action Ban
By Mark Walsh
Conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared
skeptical last week that Michigan's voterenacted
prohibition on affirmative action in
higher education violates the 14th Amendment's
The 2006 ballot measure known as Proposal 2
was not a "racial classification," as its opponents
suggest, Justice Antonin Scalia said during the
Oct. 15 oral arguments in Schuette v. Coalition to
Defend Affirmative Action (Case No. 12-682). "It's
a prohibition of racial classifications."
The Michigan ballot initiative also bars race
preferences in K-12 public schools and other
areas of state government, but the case before
the high court concerns the measure's prohibition
of race preferences in college admissions.
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court's decision
could have wide implications. (See Education
Week, Oct. 2, 2013.)
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., another of the
court's conservatives on race issues, said one way
to look at the equal-protection clause was that it
takes "race off the table."
"Is it unreasonable for the state to say, 'Look,
race is a lightning rod.' ... So why don't we say we
want [colleges] to do everything [they] can without
having racial preferences?"
Paths to Diversity
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit,
(or about 173 in all) are to begin using the
new system. That leaves the vast majority
of districts using new teacher evaluations
in the 2016-17 school year-a year
later than the federal requirements.
"That's not just a little thing. It means
most districts are a year behind. I think
that makes it hard for the department
to make an exception," Ms. Hyslop said.
Still, she said, Illinois has a strong plan
in place for teacher evaluations-one that
makes clear who is implementing what
and when, in what order, and how student
achievement is being used.
"My confidence in them is pretty high,"
she said. "I wouldn't say that about all
To that end, other states have gotten
waivers without having a teacher-evaluation
law, by simply laying out a plan on
paper for how they will comply with federal
requirements, according to an Education
Week review of approved waiver plans.
Kansas, for example, lacks a law governing
how student achievement should be
used in teacher evaluations and has convened
task forces to decide how to do this.
(The state is now on "high-risk status" and
in danger of losing its waiver after federal
officials determined the state had not made
enough progress on its teacher-evaluation
system.) New Hampshire is also working
with task forces to develop a model of
teacher evaluations for districts to use.
And Alabama's waiver plan says that
the state board of education's strategic
plan for 2020 will include a federally
aligned teacher evaluation system.
For Illinois to move its timeline would
require a change in state law, which was
artfully negotiated more than three years
ago. Plus at this late date, it would likely
be logistically impossible for districts to
speed up implementation, education advocates
in the state say.
"We approached teacher evaluation in a
thoughtful and reasonable way, and with
a timeframe that's workable and honest,"
said Robin Steans, the executive director
of Advance Illinois, which works on education-improvement
efforts in the state.
Getting a waiver now, more than a year
after other states have, she said, would be
a "deserved reasonable accommodation."
"But is it fatal if we don't? No. At the
end of the day the work is there and the
work will get done."
Assistant Editor Stephen Sawchuk contributed
to this story.
in Cincinnati, ruled last year that the ballot measure
made it more difficult for racial minorities to
achieve a race-conscious admissions policy. That
was a significant change in the ordinary political
process and a racial classification that violates the
Supreme Court's "political restructuring" doctrine,
the appellate court said.
The doctrine stems from two Supreme Court
precedents. In Hunter v. Erickson, the high
court in 1969 invalidated an Akron, Ohio, ballot
measure that had overturned a local fair-housing
ordinance. In Washington v. Seattle School
District No. 1, the court in 1982 struck down a
ballot-initiated state law that prohibited busing
for school desegregation.
Those cases, especially the Seattle busing case,
figured prominently in oral arguments.
"There's no way to distinguish Seattle from this
case, nor the Hunter case," said the American Civil
Liberties Union's Mark D. Rosenbaum, one of two
lawyers arguing against the Michigan measure.
Both cases would have to be overruled for the Supreme
Court to be able to reinstate the ballot measure,
The Proposal 2 opponents found strong allies in
two of the court's more liberal members.
"The rationale of Seattle is that notion that we
can't put hurdles in the way of a disadvantaged
minority," said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one
of the court's liberals who seemed more sympathetic
to the group challenging Proposal 2.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has discussed
the role that affirmative action played in her own
Ivy League educational career, aggressively challenged
the state's arguments.
"This amendment is stopping the political pro-
cess," she said. "It's saying the board of regents
can do everything else in the field of education"
but adopt affirmative action.
John J. Bursch, Michigan's solicitor general,
said, "It does not violate equal protection to require
equal treatment" of race. He offered the
court several narrow legal paths under which the
Michigan initiative could be upheld.
A Political Process
Justice Elena Kagan is not participating in the
case, presumably because she worked on it when
she was U.S. solicitor general. Michigan must attract
five votes on the court to overturn the 6th
Circuit ruling striking down Proposal 2. (A 4-4
tie on the court would result in the appeals court
ruling being affirmed without an opinion.)
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is usually the
pivotal vote in cases about race, told Mr. Bursch
that he had trouble distinguishing the 1982 Seattle
decision from the Michigan case.
But he pressed the lawyers attacking Proposal 2
about why the equal-protection concern should kick
in with a ballot initiative eliminating affirmative
action in admissions, but not if the board of regents
or other state officials make such a decision.
Noting that Michigan's regents had delegated
the decisions about whether to have race-conscious
admissions policies to state university faculties,
Justice Kennedy said, "Why is ... a faculty
decision any less outcome-determinative than
what the voters would say?"
"That's part of the ordinary political process,"
said Mr. Rosenbaum. But he and Shanta Driver,
the lawyer representing the Coalition to Defend
Affirmative Action, stressed that putting the question
to voters put the issue on "a separate and unequal
political track," as Mr. Rosenbaum put it.
A decision in the case is expected by late June.
Separately, as the Supreme Court carried on
business as usual last week despite the shutdown
of much of the rest of the federal government, the
* Declined without comment to hear an appeal
from black parents that a student-assignment
plan for the Metropolitan Nashville school
district led to unconstitutional resegregation of
the schools. The appeal was Spurlock v. Fox (No.
* Dismissed a case about age-discrimination
claims by public employees that was being
watched closely by groups representing teachers
and school boards. The Oct. 7 oral arguments
in Madigan v. Levin (No. 12-872) had revealed
procedural problems with the case, so the high
court's dismissal did not come as a surprise.
EDUCATION WEEK | October 23, 2013 | www.edweek.org | 15
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 23, 2013
Education Week - October 23, 2013
Colorado Tax Boosting K-12 Up to Voters
Paddling Persists in U.S. Schools
Health-Care Law Raises Questions For Districts
K12 Inc. Learning Difficult Lessons This School Year
News in Brief
New Student Majority in South and West: Poor Children
School Poverty Said to Hurt College Access
Media Group Calls on Companies To Protect Students’ Personal Data
D.C. Teachers Improved After Overhaul Of Evaluations, Pay
Blogs of the Week
K-12 Advocates Remain Braced For Fiscal Fight
Illinois Among Outliers With No NCLB Waiver
Appeal Argued on Affirmative-Action Ban
The Public School Ownership Gap
We Need a National Monument to Teachers
Changing the World, One Student at a Time
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Common Core’s Power for Disadvantaged Students
Education Week - October 23, 2013