Education Week - November 12, 2014 - (Page 20)

K-12 Policy in Play Amid GOP Gains PARTISAN CONTROL OF STATE LEGISLATURES CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19 state budgets can take some solace. Mr. McShane of the aei said that with the exception of Gov. Corbett in Pennsylvania, many Republicans like Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas were able to win in spite of sustained attacks on their K-12 spending records from Democrats and labor unions. But some Republican governors who survived such criticisms during their re-election campaigns might have been spurred to take a fresh look at the issue. For example, Gov. Nathan Deal in Georgia has pledged to initiate a fundamental review and potential overhaul of public school spending, while Gov. Scott in Florida has promised to increase such spending to record levels next year on a per-pupil basis. Those kinds of promises give heart to Carmel Martin, a former top U.S. Department of Education official in the Obama administration, despite what she acknowledged "wasn't a good night for Democrats." "Some of the places where you saw [education] playing in a big way were around funding issues. So that makes me happy," said Ms. Martin, who is now the executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank that favors greater financial resources for public schools. In some states, attention may focus on the impact of new governors on K-12 spending proposals already in the works. For example, legislation in Illinois approved by the state Senate last year seeks to create a new funding formula that would put a priority on low-income and other needy students and make K-12 spending more transparent. Now under consideration in the House, the bill has momentum and political backing that could prove immune to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's defeat to Mr. Rauner. "No one is saying, 'Oh my God, the thing that's really going to change this is the election,' " said Michael Griffith, a school finance analyst with the Education Commission of the States in Denver who has worked with Illinois lawmakers on changes to K-12 spending. The same could hold true in Pennsylvania, where a committee of lawmakers is tasked with proposing a new funding formula next year. While Democratic Gov.elect Wolf, a businessman who hasn't previously held elected office, campaigned strongly on approving a bigger state K-12 budget, BLOGS U.S. Supreme Court Declines Review of School Bullying Case | THE SCHOOL LAW BLOG | The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of three Pennsylvania families who alleged in a lawsuit that their school district failed to effectively respond to the bullying of middle school students. "[L]ife at school" for the three boys "was a daily repertoire of being pushed, shoved, hit, kicked, and verbally abused by a group of larger boys," said the appeal of the three families. They charged that the Gettysburg Area school district and various school officials "intentionally denied assistance to the [boys and their parents], refusing to supervise and/or respond to confrontational dangerous situations even though future acts of bullying and injuries were predictable." The families alleged that the district violated their First Amendment free expression rights by retaliating against them for complaining and their 14th Amendment dueprocess rights to receive an education free of physical and verbal abuse. The families' suit was dismissed in a federal district court, a decision that was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia. "As with other bullying cases we have confronted, we are sympathetic to the plight of the student victims," the 3rd Circuit Court said in January. "However, without any allegation of action by the school district, the case falls squarely within our binding precedent." The appellate court noted a 2013 decision by the 3rd Circuit that a case of school bullying by other students typically does not implicate the "special relationship" or "state-created danger" doctrines of government liability. (The Supreme Court last year declined to take up that case as well.) The 2,900-student Gettysburg district waived its right to file a response to the families' Supreme Court appeal. 20 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 12, 2014 | The justices declined without comment on Nov. 3 to hear the appeal in Monn v. Gettysburg Area School District (Case No. 14-193). La. to Delay Computer-Based PARCC Testing | CURRICULUM MATTERS | Louisiana has abandoned plans to administer the parcc assessments online this year, and will give the tests only on paper, according to news media reports. State Superintendent John White made the announcement late last month, according to the TimesPicayune newspaper. In addition to the paper-only announcement, White also said the English/language arts portion of the test for students in grades 3-8 would be shortened, and the testing window in a given day also would be pared back. Amid concerns about the technological readiness for online testing, White had planned to have 3rd and 4th graders take the paper-based version of the test, but higher grades had the option of taking it online, the Times-Picayune reported. The announcement expands the mandate for paper-based testing to all students in 3rd through 8th grade. High school students in Louisiana will still take the state's own tests, rather than the parcc exams. Louisiana has been embroiled in a major controversy about which tests to use. Gov. Bobby Jindal waged a fierce battle to dump the parcc assessments, with White fighting to defend the tests. The dispute tumbled into court, and a judge ultimately ruled that state education officials could stick with the parcc tests. In announcing his decision to use only paper-based tests this year, White said he wasn't as concerned about schools' technological capacity as he was about the "distraction" of moving to computer-based tests, according to the Associated -MARK WALSH Press. He said he wants teachers and students to be able to focus on the content of the standards that are being tested, rather than on using new technology. The state intends to move to computer-based testing for all students, but that plan is on hold until spring 2016. -CATHERINE GEWERTZ USDA Seeks Local Input on Unpaid School Meal Balances | RULES FOR ENGAGEMENT | Unpaid meal balances can be a big challenge for school nutrition directors. When students repeatedly come through the meal line without the means to pay, schools frequently offer them meals, allowing them to accumulate a small debt. But too much unpaid debt can strain nutrition operating budgets, which typically have tight margins. What's the responsible way to handle this? The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking comments on state and local policies. In February, a Utah cafeteria worker was put on leave after taking lunches from students with unpaid balances and throwing them in the trash. The incident sparked strong responses, and benevolent strangers even reported to some schools to pay off debts. The usda's existing guidance on unpaid meals is minimal. It says schools participating in national meal programs aren't obligated to provide meals to students with overdrawn accounts, but that the agency "encourages schools to be flexible in this area." But the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires the agency to examine state and district policies and to explore "the feasibility of establishing national standards for extending credit to children by allowing meal charges, establishing national charges for alternate meals which might be served, and providing recommendations for implementing those standards." Usda's Food and Nutrition Service division is seeking comment on such a policy through Jan. 14 at -EVIE BLAD his positions on other key questions for a new state formula are less clear. Teacher Focus Among state ballot initiatives dealing with K-12, many sought funding increases through various means, and their success rate was mixed. New York state's Proposal 3 to issue $2 billion in bonds in part to improve technology in public schools passed, but Washington state's Initiative 1351, which aimed to hike spending Democrat Republican Split Nonpartisan Undecided SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures to reduce class sizes, failed. Teacher preparation and licensure could also be fertile ground for new action from state lawmakers. Regardless of political persuasion, most lawmakers now recognize the importance of teachers to student achievement, argued Ms. Martin of cap. She noted, for example, that seven states are participating in a two-year pilot organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers to reconsider how they prepare individuals for teaching careers. Since 2010, nationwide enrollment in teacher-preparation programs has declined, and the drop has been especially pronounced in states like California and Texas, with large populations. Maria Ferguson, the executive director of the Center on Education Policy, a Washington think tank, said, "The big question in ed policy is going to be the teacher piece." She added: "Perhaps the road ahead for some resourceful governor is to figure out a way to really up the ante in terms of the teaching profession in his or her state, or to be innovative in that area." 2014 ELECTION

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 12, 2014

Education Week - November 12, 2014
Republicans Enhance State-Level Advantage
Broad Poverty Index Gives Fuller Picture Of Stressed Schools
Chromebooks Gaining Popularity in Districts
Key Obama Priorities Facing Lack of Allies
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study: Close Screening Process Can Improve Teacher Hires
Study Finds Few Payoffs in Short-Term Career Certificates
Blogs of the Week
Chromebooks Ascend in K-12 Market to Challenge iPads
Perceived Threat to Net Neutrality Sparks Furor
GOP Leaders in Congress Outline Education Priorities
More Than $60 Million Later, Scant Payoff for Teachers’ Unions
California Chief’s Win a Bright Spot For Teachers’ Unions
Election 2014 Results
Blogs of the Week
RANDI WEINGARTEN: Collaboration Takes Two
FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: Overlooked and in Need: Black Female Students
JOE FELDMAN: Grading Standards Can Elevate Teaching
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
APRIL BO WANG: What About Helping Rural Schools?

Education Week - November 12, 2014