Education Priorities Outlined by Republican Leaders in Congress (Education Week, November 7, 2014) Congressional Republicans have laid out an aggressive education policy agenda which includes overhauling No Child Left Behind and the Higher Education Act as well as prioritizing school choice measures and funding issues. Rep. John Kline is at the head of the House Education and Workforce Committee and has presented two similar proposals to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law. Under both proposals, states would still test students, but they wouldn’t have to set standards for achievement or intervene in schools that aren’t making progress with particular subgroups of students. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is part of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, is focused on a bill that would significantly scale back the federal role in K-12 policy and allow states to create their own accountability plans.
Mayor De Blasio Announces New Plan for Struggling NYC Schools (The New York Times, November 3, 2014) NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a new approach to improving the city’s most troubled public schools. The program has designated 94 of the most troubled NYC public schools as Renewal Schools and determined that students at those schools will receive an hour more of instructional time a day, the teachers will be given professional training, and the schools will also be encouraged to provide summer school. The schools will also be given additional resources, including $150 million, which will be spread over two years. The hope is to also turn these schools into Community Schools, which offer mental health services and food for students who need them, in an effort to address the challenges that students may face outside of the classroom.
Teachers Unions Lose Millions in Midterm Election (The Washington Post, November 5, 2014) The nation’s major teachers unions lost up to $60 million in the recent midterm elections in federal, state, and local races. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which spent $20 million on midterm races, blamed their defeat on the GOP’s ability to nationalize many states races saying, “The Republicans successfully made it a referendum on the President.” The union also lost ground with some Democrats who embrace policies that the unions oppose, such as expansion of public charter schools, and the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.