Advocacy Update

100th Anniversary of NASSP

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) introduced a House resolution recognizing 2016 as the 100th anniversary of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Read more about the resolution on the School of Thought blog.

Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

During the week before Christmas, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter to chief state school officers underscoring that the new requirements for the Every Student Succeeds Act do not take effect until August 2016, and states will still be held accountable for No Child Left Behind requirements until then. The department also emphasized that the new law has maintained the requirement that states and schools test at least 95 percent of their overall student population and 95 percent of each subgroup.

Why should principals care?

Failure to maintain the 95 percent testing rate puts state federal funding, including valuable Title I funds, at risk. States are expected to take steps to reduce their opt-out rate, and according to the letter, these actions will be taken into account when assessing states that do not meet the 95 percent threshold. Principals can expect to see more activity from state boards of education in places with growing opt-out movements.

In the Press

Kids’ Share 2015, Urban Institute

The Urban Institute’s annual look at federal and state expenditures on children found that spending has remained fairly flat for the past three years. Between 2012 and 2014, spending fell for children’s education, nutrition, social services, and early education, but increased for children’s health. Overall, about 10 percent of the budget is spent on children, with child-related tax provisions like earned income tax credit and health programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program making up the majority of those expenditures.

This Superintendent Has Figured Out How to Make School Work for Poor Kids, The Washington Post

The Jennings School District in Missouri serves about 3,000 students in a low-income, predominately African-American town north of St. Louis. When Superintendent Tiffany Anderson started three years ago, she set out to combat the barriers that prevent poor kids from learning. She brought back arts programs, launched a Saturday School, added dual enrollment programs, and even built a shelter for homeless students. This article includes interviews with students in Jennings and the story of how Anderson went about transforming her district.

States Eager to Shirk Obama-Era Education Policies, U.S. News & World Report

Some states have wasted no time dropping Obama-era education policies, exercising their new power. New York, which already had an advisory board concerned with tests, standards, and teacher evaluations, announced that they would delay the use of test scores in teacher evaluations for four years. And Oklahoma has approved new options for districts to evaluate student growth. Under the new law, states cannot completely drop their accountability systems, and they can’t stop efforts to turn around low-performing schools, but federal enforcement mechanisms are murky, so states will have more leeway in how their accountability systems operate.

Youth Voting: State and City Approaches to Early Civic Engagement, Education Commission of the States

This review from the Education Commission of the States looks at youth voting policies in all 50 states, and in particular, in Maryland and Illinois where laws have been passed in some local jurisdictions allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote for positions like town mayor and school board member. Policies like these are believed to promote engagement in politics, with potential trickle up effects on the parents of teens who have gained the right to vote. Some states already have policies allowing students to elect a student representative on local school boards and allowing youth who will be 18 by a general election to vote in their party’s primary.

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