Congressional Funding, Teacher Effectiveness & Waivers
| Aug 29, 2011
August 29, 2011 –
Several key issues impacting literacy and children are on tap for discussion by the Congress and the Administration as official Washington returns from its August break next week.
The debate: How much money should be spent by the federal government on education?
As the new fiscal year begins on October 1st there is no plan or agreement in place. The House of Representatives has allocated 18% less overall for the Departments of Labor/Health and Human Services/Education. The Senate has no set funding level. It is possible that we will face a similar fight for funds this year as was experienced in the spring of this year.
Of high interest to IRA members is the concept of teacher evaluation.
This is a cornerstone issue of the Obama administration’s reform agenda. It is also something of high interest to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. That committee held one hearing on teachers and teacher effectiveness as part of their agenda to have five bills (with teacher effectiveness being one) as their reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. In addition to this issue, many on the committee focused on alternative paths to becoming a teacher─ with high interest in Teach for America.
Staff in the House is working on several ideas. One of them: There should be funding for professional development but that the content and the processes should not be a federal decision. The Republican staff members are working to try to find how to direct funds to specific parts of the education function without being proscriptive.
When they complete their work on teacher effectiveness the House committee is then to focus on the accountability issues related to No Child Left Behind. As in their other areas, they want to create programs with accountability for outcomes, not process. However, there continues to be a divide between how to protect the rights of high need populations using ideas such as measuring subgroups. There is an understanding that being too specific is expensive and ineffectual.
The US Department of Education (USED) is preparing for several announcements. One is to release the names of the states that will be receiving Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grants. Thirty-four states filed applications for this competitive grant. The $179 million will provide funds to between three (if all large states) to 18 (if all are small states) to conduct professional development programs for teachers working with children from age 0 to grade 12.
The other USED announcement will be related to waivers for several of the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In March the President announced that he wanted a new measure on his desk before the first day of the new school year. This hasn’t happened. In keeping with an announcement by Secretary Duncan in June, states will be able to apply for specific waivers to specific parts of NCLB. However, it will not be as simple as just applying for a waiver. Most likely states will have to commit to working on a reform agenda that includes linking teacher evaluations to student performance.
USED, in its September 2011 announcement, is expected to make clear the criteria and process for waivers.ype your content here...