All week, we have seen the kabuki theater that is the Senate HELP Committee debate the latest version of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. From Sen. Harkin (IA) negotiating against himself by weakening teacher accountability provisions before the markup even began to the reams of amendments intended by Sen. Paul (KY) to Sen. Sanders (VT) intending to place scarlet letters on the chests of any educator who didn’t experience four or six years of a traditional education school experience, it was theater to say the least.
The day has finally come. This afternoon, Senate HELP Chairman Tom Harkin (IA) officially unveiled his draft of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The bill offers the sexy title “Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011.”
At this point in time, only the truly cockeyed optimist believes that ESEA reauthorization will be moving any time soon. After missed deadlines, political roadblocks, budget showdowns, and the enacting of executive authority, it seems a safe bet that honest to goodness, comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act won’t be a reality until 2013.
In preparing for our second reauthorization in 2001, Ed
Trust looked hard at lessons learned from leading states and our work in
schools and districts. We also probed the limited data on student achievement
patterns that were available at that time. This research and preparation
suggested that the law’s provisions in two particular areas needed improvement:
accountability, on the one hand, and teacher quality and assignment patterns,
on the other. In the former category, which is the subject of this paper, we
sought to end the widespread practice of sweeping the underperformance of
certain groups of children under the rug of school-wide averages, ensuring to
the extent possible that the law held schools accountable for improving the
performance of all their students.
After years of “will they/won’t they.” it appears the U.S. Department of Education is finally ready to move forward with its Plan B for reforming No Child Left Behind. In a release sent out over the weekend for public consumption today, ED announced its intention to “fix” NCLB. The announcement can be found here, courtesy of Politico. Also note the Politico story on the matter.
Most of those who read the education blogosphere or follow the myriad of edu-tweeters know that this weekend is the “Save Our
Schools” rally in Washington, DC. On Saturday, teachers, parents, and concerned citizens with gather on the Ellipse. They are encouraged to “arrive early to enjoy performances, art, and more!” and they are slated to hear from Diane Ravitch, Jonathan Kozol, Jose Vilson, Deborah Meier, Monty Neill, and “other speakers, musicians, performance poets, and more.” This collection “will encourage, educate, and support this movement.”
How do you solve a problem like ESEA? Last week, Eduflack opined on how ESEA reauthorization didn’t seem to be moving as scheduled, and how EdSec Arne Duncan and company could make due with NCLB with a few changes. Based on Duncan’s remarks over the weekend, reported superbly (as always) by the Associated Press’ Dorie Turner, it looks like Eduflack was doing a little more than just whistlin’ in the wind.
Earlier this year, President Obama and EdSec Arne Duncan made it perfectly clear. We absolutely, positively needed ESEA reauthorization before the start of the 2011-2012 school year. As we are now less than three months from that benchmark, how close are we?
For the past two years, the education community has been all abuzz about the role of reform organizations in the process. What are TFA and NLNS saying? What are Gates and Broad trying to do? What about that DFER and 50CAN expansion? We hang on every word, analyze every check, and scrutinize every action. Good or bad (depending on your perspective), these reform groups have become our own education reality TV programming.
Last week, Eduflack detailed the long and distinguished list of “losers” in the FY2011 Continuing Resolution and the ongoing budget fight between the White House and Congress. All those billions that both sides had to cut needed to come from somewhere and, unfortunately, education was unable to avoid the knife.
For much of the last week, Eduflack has been down in New Orleans, living the edu-life. First stop was the Education Writers Association (EWA), followed by a multi-day play at the American Educational Research Association (AERA).