Advocacy Update

Apply for the Principal Ambassador Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Education

Applications are now open for the U.S. Department of Education’s 2016–17 Principal Ambassador Fellowship program. The fellowship is a year-long paid position that is anticipated to commence by the end of July 2016 and culminate by July 2017. The program has two separate year-long paid positions: the Washington Fellowship, which is a full-time “principal in residence” appointment based at the Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Campus Fellowship, which enables principals to participate on a part-time basis, while maintaining their primary school responsibilities. See our blog post for more information about the history of the fellowship and selection criteria.

Inside the Beltway

What is going on in Washington?

This past week was a whirlwind of activity on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) after House and Senate education committee leaders announced bipartisan agreement on a “framework” for reauthorization the previous Friday. Conferees, which included bipartisan members of the Senate HELP Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee, were appointed Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. The conference committee began meeting Wednesday afternoon with statements from all of the members present. On Thursday, the committee tackled all amendments and passed a final report 39-1, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voting “no” by proxy. Read more about the conference here.

Why should principals care? 

Passing a conference report is a major step toward ESEA reauthorization and action that Congress has not taken since No Child Left Behind (which officially expired in 2007) passed in 2001. Provisions in the conference report will impact standards and assessments, school accountability, and teacher and principal evaluation systems. While this is a big deal, the public has yet to see the full bill and there are questions about whether enough House members will support the bill and ultimately send it to the president for his signature.

In the Press

A Promise to Renew, The Hechinger Report

In this award-winning series, Sara Neufeld follows the Quitman Street Renew School in Newark, NJ, and highlights the school’s principal, Erskine Glover, and the lives of two of the school’s students. The series is an in-depth look across three years at a struggling school and the reform-minded policies of Newark Public Schools. Pieces of the series cover how the school was affected by Hurricane Sandy and Glover’s personal journey as an educator.

Your School Shapes How You Think about Inequality, NPR

The demographics of your school can shape how you think about inequality, says a recent NPR article highlighting a new book Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice by Carla Shedd. Shedd followed students at four different Chicago high schools—two very segregated schools and two fairly diverse. The article highlights two African-American students from similar backgrounds. The one attending a segregated school was more accepting of police tactics (such as being searched on street)—viewing them as something that happens to everyone.

Today’s Schools and Teachers are Being Asked to Carry a Large and Growing Pension Burden, Brookings Institution

This article looks at the rising burden of pension costs for school districts. Pensions are not yet reaching national headlines, but their costs will soon affect school districts’ budgets and place burden on current teachers and school leaders. Many school districts provide their retired teachers with defined pension plans, and as people live longer, the burden gets pushed to current teachers in the form of their retirement payments. Current teachers carry this burden through their own retirement contributions, with as much as 10 percent going to paying pensions.

Social and Emotional Learning: Opportunities for Massachusetts, Lessons for the Nation, ASCD

While this report was written to advise Massachusetts on implementing a social and emotional learning (SEL) initiative, it provides useful information about how state-level policies around SEL have played out in other states and offers policy recommendations going forward. One important lesson from other states is that state standards around SEL are not enough and not always the best place to start. ASCD recommends implementing professional development for teachers and school leaders first as well as finding a “home” for SEL at the state’s department of education.

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