Republican Platform Released, Includes Thoughts on Education
This week, the Republican Convention approved the 2012 Republican Party Platform. It’s online at: http://www.gop.com/2012-republican-platform_home/.
The following are some excerpts on education:
“Since 1965 the federal government has spent $2 trillion on elementary and secondary education with no substantial improvement in academic achievement or high school graduation rates (which currently are 59 percent for African-American students and 63 percent for Hispanics). The U.S. spends an average of more than $10,000 per pupil per year in public schools, for a total of more than $550 billion. That represents more than 4 percent of GDP devoted to K-12 education in 2010. Of that amount, federal spending was more than $47 billion. Clearly, if money were the solution, our schools would be problem-free.”
“We support options for learning, including home schooling and local innovations like single-sex classes, full-day school hours, and year-round schools. School choice—whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits—is important for all children, especially for families with children trapped in failing schools.”
“In sum, on the one hand enormous amounts of money are being spent for K-12 public education with overall results that do not justify that spending. On the other hand, the common experience of families, teachers, and administrators forms the basis of what does work in education. We believe the gap between those two realities can be successfully bridged, and Congressional Republicans are pointing a new way forward with major reform legislation. We support its concept of block grants and the repeal of numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools.”
“The bulk of the federal money through Title I for low-income children and through IDEA for disabled youngsters should follow the students to whatever school they choose so that eligible pupils, through open enrollment, can bring their share of the funding with them. The Republican-founded D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program should be expanded as a model for the rest of the country.”
FY 2013 Federal Funding Will Begin with a CR (Continuing Resolution)
We heard about a month ago that Congress will begin FY 2013 not by passing all 12 appropriations bills (as they’re supposed to), but by passing what is called a Continuing Resolution, or CR, to last 6 months. It is expected that Congress will pass the CR immediately when they return from August recess, and that they will return to their respective districts to continue their campaigns for the elections shortly thereafter. A CR largely level-funds programs (including education programs) from the current year’s levels (or FY 2012). NASSP, in partnership with our coalition partner Committee for Education Funding (www.cef.org) has met with dozens of appropriations committee offices to lobby for the best possible funding levels for education for FY 2013, and most importantly for no more cuts to education given that Department of Education funds have been cut the last two years (in FY 2010 and 2011).
Department of Ed Receives Nearly 900 Intents to Apply for $400 Million Race to the Top District-Level Competition
Potential Applicants Include Those from 48 States and the District of Columbia
From a U.S. Department of Education press release: “Today the U.S. Department of Education announced that 893 potential applicants have submitted their intent to apply for the 2012 Race to the Top-District program, which will provide close to $400 million to support local reforms that will personalize learning, close achievement gaps and prepare each student for college and their careers. The response follows the launch of the competition earlier this month.
“I believe the best ideas come from leaders at the local level, and the enthusiastic response to the Race to the Top-District competition highlights the excitement that districts have to engage in locally designed reforms that will directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We hope to build on this nationwide momentum by funding districts that have innovative plans to transform the learning environment, a clear vision for reform and a track record of success.”
The Race to the Top-District competition invites applicants to demonstrate how they can personalize education for all students and is aimed squarely at classrooms and the all-important relationship between teachers and students. The competition will encourage transformative change within schools, providing school leaders and teachers with key tools and support in order to best meet their students’ needs.
The Department has posted the list of those who have indicated their intent to apply on its website: www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district.
The Department plans to support high-quality proposals from applicants across a variety of districts, including rural and non-rural districts as well as those already participating in a Race to the Top state grant and districts not participating. These 4-year awards will range from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan. The Department is expecting to make 15-25 awards.
More information can be found at: www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district. Applications are due Oct. 30, with awards being announced no later than Dec. 31, 2012.”
Romney Campaign Continues to Tout School Choice
From an Education Week article posted August 31, 2012: “Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his campaign used the night of his acceptance speech to make the case that he was an advocate for education as governor of Massachusetts—and would make expanding school choice a K-12 priority if he wins the White House.
“When it comes to the school your child should attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance,” Romney told the crowd here. But although his 39-minute speech included pointed attacks on President Barack Obama’s performance on the economy, defense, and health care, he was silent on the president’s K-12 record.
Earlier in the night, Romney’s most visible K-12 ambassador, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, said the GOP nominee’s background as a governor will put him in a powerful position to make big changes on K-12.
“Because he is a former governor, Mitt Romney understands that states must lead this national movement,” Bush said.
To underscore his point, Bush gave a big shout-out to the education efforts of a litany of Republican governors, starting with high praise for Indiana’s Mitch Daniels and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, both of whom recently enacted voucher programs— the centerpiece of Romney’s own education plan.
“All kids can learn,” Bush said. “Governor Romney believes it, and the data proves it. While he was governor, Massachusetts raised standards, and today their students lead the nation in academic performance.”
Read the rest of the article here.
Educators Evaluate Flipped Classrooms
From an Education Week article posted August 27, 2012: “A growing number of educators are working to turn learning on its head by replacing traditional classroom lectures with video tutorials, an approach popularly called the “flipped classroom.” Interest in that teaching method was in full view this summer at the International Society for Technology in Education annual conference in San Diego, where almost every session on the topic was filled to capacity.
The movement was inspired partly by the work of Salman Khan, who created a library of free online tutoring videos spanning a variety of academic subjects, known as the Khan Academy, which many view as a touchstone of the flipped-classroom technique. But, much like the Khan Academy itself, the approach is attracting increasing scrutiny—and criticism—among educators and researchers.
The term “flipping” comes from the idea of swapping homework for class work. Students typically are assigned the video-watching for homework, freeing up class time that used to be spent listening to lectures for hands-on activities and application of knowledge, which used to serve as homework.
However, as most educators who have begun to use the technique are quick to say, there are a multitude of ways to “flip” a classroom. Some teachers assign a video for homework, while others allow students to watch those videos in class. Still others make videos for the lesson, but do not require students to watch them at all, giving students a variety of resources and allowing them to choose what they utilize to learn the required information.
But just as the Khan Academy has recently come under fire from some in the education blogosphere for what critics say is flawed pedagogy, the flipped-classroom technique has also garnered criticism from some who believe that flipping is simply a high-tech version of an antiquated instructional method: the lecture.
“My concern is that if you’re still relying on lecture as your primary mode of getting content across, … you haven’t done anything to shift the type of learning that’s occurring,” said Andrew Miller, an educational consultant who works with the Alexandria, Va.-based professional-development group ASCD and the Novato, Calif.-based Buck Institute of Education, which works to promote project-based learning in classrooms.
“That’s not how all of us learn,” he said. “Just because you flipped your classroom doesn’t mean your students will watch the videos. How are you engaging your kids?”
The Center for American Progress recently released Unequal Education, which finds “schools across the nation continue to treat students of color differently than their white peers because of a federal loophole that permits districts to spend significantly less on schools with large populations of students of color.”
CEF Grassroots Toolkit: In addition to the action alert on sequestration we are asking you to complete and send to your legislators, we also encourage you to check Committee for Education Funding’s grassroots toolkit on sequestration. It has lots of great resources for grassroots advocacy, including: sample letters to the editor, op-ed, action alert, and talking points for phone calls or emails to your legislators.
Sequestration Article: Domestic Cuts Can’t Close the Gap
CEF/AEE Sequestration Webinar: Hold Friday, September 14 at 2 pm for a webinar on sequestration that will be jointly hosted by CEF and the Alliance for Excellent Education. This webinar will explain what sequestration is, its potential impact on education funding, why you should care, and how you can get involved. More details will be sent soon or you can check the Alliance’s events website for updates.
Monday, September 10: Education for the Twenty-first Century: Districts Take the Lead: Educators are increasingly interested in integrating critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication into their teaching and learning systems. But these efforts will only be effective if districts change their policies and practices. In this webinar, Ken Kay and Valerie Greenhill of EdLeader21, authors of The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts, will describe seven steps that district leaders can take to integrate twenty-first-century skills into their instructional programs.Register and submit questions for the webinar at http://media.all4ed.org/registration-sep-10-2012
Wednesday, September 12: Education for Life and Work: Deeper Learning and Twenty-First-Century Skills: In a recently released report, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century, a committee of the National Research Council (NRC) finds that “deeper learning” competencies are associated with desirable educational, career, and health outcomes. This webinar will feature the chair of the NRC committee, James Pellegrino, and an NRC committee member, Christine Massey, who will highlight key findings from the report; Christopher Shearer of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which is funding a major initiative to support deeper learning, and Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University, will discuss the policy implications. Register and submit questions for the webinar at http://media.all4ed.org/registration-sep-12-2012