Education Week - October 24, 2012 - (Page 18)

18 EDUCATION WEEK n OCTOBER 24, 2012 n GOVERNMENT POLITICS POLICY BRIEF Debates Push Fate of NCLB Waivers to Fore Romney camp clear: New scrutiny looms if candidate prevails By Michele McNeil As the two presidential campaigns continue to sharpen how they would approach the federal role in education if victorious, advisers to President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have made it clear that the fate of waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act may be decided by the NoCAMPAIGN vember election. During two debates last week featuring education advisers to the rival campaigns, surrogates for Mr. Romney emphasized that the waiver flexibility granted by the U.S. Department of Education to 34 states and the District of Columbia would—at a minimum—be reviewed and could even be revoked if their candidate wins. The waivers are “not about flexibility. They’re very prescriptive,” F. Philip Handy, a former chairman of the Florida state board of education and an education adviser to Mr. Romney, said at an Oct. 15 debate at Teachers College, Columbia University. Mr. Handy said Mr. Romney plans to review all executive orders, New RTT Twist: Nonacademics When the U.S. Department of Education begins sifting through the hundreds of applications for district Race to the Top grants, it will be looking for one item that hasn’t been a part of any previous iteration of the contest. Districts will be able to earn up to 10 bonus points if their applications for a piece of the $400 million in education redesign money include plans to collaborate with public and private partners to help improve the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students. Considering that nearly 900 districts have informed the department of their intention to compete, and only 15 to 25 grants will be awarded, that component could be critical to a district’s chance of winning. Districts can earn up to 200 points in other required areas of the grant application, including plans for how they will use personalized strategies, tools, and supports to improve teaching and learning. The social-, emotional-, and behavioral-needs component should work in conjunction with the rest of a district’s application, an Education Department official said. The partnerships that districts can include may exist or be ones they plan to form, the official said. n 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama talk over each other at last week’s debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The candidates sparred on education and other issues. In a pair of separate matchups last week, campaign advisers squared off on a range of education policy issues. and waivers, though not technically executive orders, would also be reviewed. He said a Romney administration would push for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, whose current version is the decade-old nclb law, and if that didn’t happen, would try to return to the law as written. The waivers, offered by the Obama administration last year to give states flexibility until Congress rewrites the law, are the latest example of big differences that have emerged between the campaigns on federal education policy—differences that were also aired during a second debate between the presidential candidates themselves last week. The campaigns disagree most over how involved the federal government should be in pushing the Common Core State Standards and how education should be funded in PAGE 20 > John Moore/Getty Policy Menu Varies in State School Board Elections By Andrew Ujifusa With scores of state school board seats nationwide hanging on the results of next month’s elections, the results could have a quiet but significant impact on education policy at a time when board members’ influence and relationships with other state political leaders are in transition. Nine states are holding direct elections this cycle for some or all the seats on their state boards of education, including Colorado, Ohio, and Texas. (New Mexico’s elected Public Education Commission—also up for grabs—serves only in an advisory role to the state superintendent.) Four of the board elections, in Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, and Utah, are nonpartisan. In addition, eight states in which governors appoint board members—Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia—have gubernatorial contests this year, further raising the stakes. In all, about one-sixth of the approximately 600 state board seats could change hands this year through elections or subsequent appointments, said Jim Kohlmoos, the executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, or nasbe, based in Arlington, Va. He also said that turnover among state schools chiefs and governors may increase state boards’ importance, even though the boards often have a low political profile. “With all the churning that’s going on at the state level, the power struggle or whatever, state boards are actually a stabilizing force,” Mr. Kohlmoos said. In recent years, as governors have tried to exert more influence on their state education systems, they have directed some efforts at their state boards, said Kathy Christie, an education analyst for the Denver-based Education Commission of the States. In 2010, for example, Hawaii’s governor gained the power to appoint board members who previously were selected by voters on a statewide basis. In Oregon, legislation passed in 2011 allows the governor to take a broad leadership role in the state’s new education governing system. discussions among board members. “Some people see it as a balance The three factions on the board— of power; some see it as a conflict of moderate gop members, more conpower,” Ms. Christie said. servative Republicans, and Democrats—could also see their numbers and influence shift, said David Lone Star Makeover Anderson, who leads the education Because of the redistricting pro- practice at HillCo Partners, a lobbycess this year, all 15 seats on the ing firm in Austin, Texas. Texas board of education are up for “Three years ago, there were election, and there could be a shift enough social conservatives on the in the ideological blocs on the board, board that they could control the now made up of 11 Republicans and agenda,” Mr. Anderson said. “Now four Democrats and famous for its there are enough moderate Repubbattles over curriculum. licans on the board that they can A 2011 measure signed into law control the agenda.” by Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, a 26-year transferred the ultimate power over board veteran who was defeated in selection of instructional materials 2010 but won her gop primary this from the state board to districts, al- year, could be a swing vote, Mr. Anthough the board still provides an derson said. Ms. Miller has argued approved list of materials based on against the role of “liberal profesthe Texas Essential Knowledge and sors” in textbooks and “politically Skills, or teks, standards that dis- correct” U.S. history textbooks. tricts can use for guidance. Two Democratic candidates, That responsibility could make Marisa Perez and Martha Dominheadlines in November 2013, guez, could also change the partiwhen board members are due to san balance on the board, despite approve a list of science materials perceptions, especially during the that they say meet teks standards, primary season, that Ms. Perez and traditional hot-button issues and Ms. Dominguez were unknown PAGE 21 > like evolution could create heated The requirement is welcomed by the Alexandria, Va.-based ascd, said Molly McCloskey, the managing director of that leadership organization’s “whole child” initiative. “We’ve seen this department begin to integrate a belief [Secretary of Education Arne Duncan] talks about a lot,” Ms. McCloskey said. “We’re pleased to see the policies are starting to walk that talk.” Districts must pay some attention to students’ physical and mental health regardless of whether they shoot for the bonus points. Districts must, for example, propose measures of age-appropriate growth in other areas, including at least one health or social-emotional indicator for students in grades 4-8 as well as a similar indicator for high school students. Generally, districts that apply must have at least 2,000 students and implement evaluation systems for teachers, principals, and superintendents by the 2014-15 school year. The awards will be worth $5 million to $10 million each for small districts and up to $40 million for the largest districts. Applications —NIRVI SHAH are due Oct. 30.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 24, 2012

Education Week - October 24, 2012
‘Smart Pills’ Promising, Problematic
At S.C. School, Behavior Is One of the Basics
Obama Finding Teacher Support Secure, if Tepid
Focus On: Curriculum: Calif. Laws Shift Gears on Algebra, Textbooks
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
‘Value Added’ Use at Secondary Level Questioned
National Board Seeks to Revive Impact on Profession
Industry & Innovation
Blogs of the Week
Debates Push Fate of NCLB Waivers to Fore
Policy Menu Varies in State School Board Elections
Policy Brief
The Election: Debating Education
Genevieve LaFleur & Scott Poland: Schools Can Be the Difference in Preventing Suicide
Kenneth Wesson: From STEM to ST2REAM: Reassembling Our Disaggregated Curriculum
Top School Jobs Recruitment Marketplace
Erica Frankenberg & Gary Orfield: Diversity or Resegregation? Why Suburban Schools Need a Plan

Education Week - October 24, 2012