Education Week - November 12, 2014 - (Page 20)
K-12 Policy in Play
Amid GOP Gains
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
But some Republican
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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 | www.edweek.org
The justices declined without comment on Nov. 3 to hear
the appeal in Monn v. Gettysburg Area School District (Case
La. to Delay Computer-Based
| 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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
his positions on other key questions
for a new state formula are
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
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."
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
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