Almost every day, U.S. Secretary of Education does his best to rework the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA to his liking. Signed into law by Obama in December, it replaced No Child Left Behind. Last month, he actually released his proposed education funding regulations while Congress was recessed. Known as “supplement-not-supplant,” the debate revolves around its implementation. As Jason Russell explains, “The idea is that federal aid to schools and districts should be in addition to what they already get from state and local funding, not a substitute for other aid.”
That then promoted Senate education committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) to say at the time: “His proposed regulation would give Washington, D.C. control over state and education dollars that is has never had before. Federal law gives him zero authority to do this. In fact, our new law [ESSA] specifically prohibits his doing this.”
Indeed, Alexander went so far as to add, “If anything resembling [the proposed regulation] becomes final, I will do everything within my power to overturn it.”
Meanwhile, a few Secretary King quotes:
In The Atlantic‘s article, “When Homework Is Useless,” education experts are asked if schools should assign, grade and use take-home assignments; the following are pulled from their comments:
What say you?
More specifically, The Atlantic asked various education experts the question: What should students be expected to know by the time they leave school.” Here are some snippets from their responses:
Those in the education community want you to know, along with Obama’s comments about teachers–charter school teachers, that is…
** “This week we honor the educators working in public charter schools across our nation who, each day, give of themselves to provide children a fair shot at the American Dream, and we recommit to the basic promise that all our daughters and sons–regardless of background or circumstance–should be able to make their lives what they will.” from Obama’s Teacher Appreciation Week proclamation (Yes, he said charter school teachers!)
** “Are we certain that what the world needs is more than 50 million public school children who meet the same academic goals? Is it possible that true opportunity is the opportunity to develop specific expertise? Might the success of a nation, in the face of a future that no one can predict perfectly, rest on the diversity in educational goals–in the same way that biodiversity ensures the success of a species?
What if the true educational gap for disadvantaged children is related to the opportunity to develop their passions? What if children need more time for free play, recess, or self-directed learning and less time spent in structured preschools or prepping for tests?” ~ Kimberly Everson, Western Kentucky University
** “The teaching profession needs two things in order to thrive–respect and trust. The two go together. You can say nice words and be grateful to teachers, but if you do not trust them as professionals, you are not showing them respect. Trust means giving teachers (appropriate) autonomy in their classrooms, but it also means giving them influence over policy–real influence, not a few token teachers on some committee–and it means giving them control over their own professional growth. We need to stop fixing teachers and create environments in which teacher themselves fix their own profession. We need to trust them to do so.” ~John Ewing, head of Math for America
** “I do think that people at state and district levels think about teachers a lot, but thinking about them is not the same as listening to them and developing respect.” ~ Madeline Will,, Education Week
** “Forcing special needs and English language learners to take high stakes tests is abusive. It’s not the kids failing, it’s a failure of the system.” ~ Betty Rosa, Regents Chancellor
** “In the not-distant past, civil rights groups filed lawsuits to block standardized testing on grounds that it is racially biased. They were right. It is no accident that standardized tests accurately reflect family income and parent education… It is important to remember that tests are a measure, not a remedy. Do we keep pouring millions or billions into testing but not spending on the remedies, like small classes?” ~ Kate Taylor, New York Times
** “No area of human effort is free from bad ideas and mistaken theories, but the quest to ‘reform’ public education is particularly awash in misguided convictions. Concepts like ‘merit pay,’ the scapegoating of teachers, and the alleged superiority of charter schools manage to stay alive as policy options despite clear proof that they don’t work.” ~ Michael Mulgrew, president, United Federation of Teachers
** “The latest study from CREDO shows that online charters are a disaster and kids actually make no progress at all in math in a year of ‘instruction.’ Then there is the big bet on teacher evaluation by test scores. It has fallen flat everywhere. No one can say with assurance that the test scores weed out bad teachers and identify the best…” ~ Diane Ravitch, education historian
** On the end of No Child Left Behind & the ushering in of ESSA: It is “the end to our national nightmare and beginning of something much better for kids.” ~ Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president, National Education Association
*** “Sure, it’s not perfect, but this Senate proposed rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) [aka No Child Left Behind] could do a lot of good–even if it includes some bad. Imagine it. States would be in control of their own public schools. The U.S. Department of Education and its appointed Secretary would lose much of their power to imposed unfunded federal mandates. For example, the federal government could no longer force states to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores. It could no longer force states to adopt Common Core or Common Core look-a like standards. It could no longer label high poverty schools “failing’ and then demand they be closed …”
*** “We ask teachers to be a combination of Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and, I’m dating myself here, Tony Soprano. We ask them to be Mom and Dad and impart tough love but also a shoulder to lean on. And when they don’t do these things, we blame them for not being saviors of the world. What is the effect? The effect has been teachers are incredibly stressed out.” ~ Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT
*** “The NYS common core tests in math and ELA are leading to a trend that is ruining public education as we know it. Because they are linked to 50% of teacher evaluations, they are forcing teachers to teach to the test. Our children are learning that there is only one right answer to a question, they are being taught how to take a test, not to ask question, and science and social studies are disappearing from our children’s curriculum due to these high stakes tests that emphasize math and ELA [English/Language Arts].” ~ Heather Roberts, mother, in a letter to the New York Times
*** “We are really much too concerned with academics and testing for our 4- and 5-year-olds. We’re cutting off both physical and social development that ought to be leading us at that point. Sitting 4-year-old boys down and expecting them to keep still and listen–it ain’t in their nature. We’d do better with our boys if they were spending more time rushing about, pushing each other and shouting like boys need to do.” ~ Penelope Leach, British parenting guru and author
*** “Twenty years ago, kids in preschool, kindergarten, and even first and second grade spent much of their time playing: building with blocks, drawing or creating imaginary worlds, in their own heads or with classmates. But increasingly, these activities are being abandoned for the teacher-led, didactic instruction typically used in higher grades. In many schools, formal education now starts at age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes, kids risk falling behind in crucial subjects, such as reading and math, and may never catch up. But a growing group of scientists, education researchers and educators say there is little evidence that this approach improves log-term achievement. In fact, it may have the opposite effect … ~ David Kohn, New York Times
** “Our educational problems of today have little to do with schools. The problem today is the demise of the family. In my family, there was no watching TV unless you had completed your homework. Although I was a good athlete, I could not play high school sports because I had to work part-time to pay for college and study for the grades to get into college. Today, almost half the kids born are to single parent families, and that parent is working. We have some excellent students in our schools today, and they come from traditional families. It was my job as a parent to teach my children, not a school system ….” ~ J. Crowley, subscriber
** “As you think about how to use your voice, your time, your energy, I want to pose one simple question to you: Does a child in South Korea deserve a better education than your child? If your answer is no–that no child in America deserves any less than a world-class education–then your work is cut out for you.” ~ Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
** “Today, to compete for educational resources, Chinese schools do all they can to outperform other schools on student test scores. Schools keep students in classes for longer hours, assign large amounts of homework, and organize countless simulation examinations. Schools rank students by their test scores and rank teachers by the scores of their students… The pressure to outperform competitors exists at every level of the education system and is passed all the way down until it reaches the student. (Sound familiar?)” Xu Zhao, Harvard Graduate School of Education
** “Just when things can’t get any worse for kindergartners, they do. It used to be that kindergartners could play–which is how childhood development experts say young children learn and are socialized best. Today, 5- and 6-year-olds are forced to sit for hours at a time doing academics, often with little or no recess, and, in some places, no time for a snack. Homework goes home every day with many kindergartners.” ~ Valerie Strauss, Washington Post
** “We must also realize that real change and improvement come only with the involvement and support of teachers. We fool ourselves when we ignore that teaching is an incredibly difficult job, and getting more so by the day. We should lift up our most successful educators, support those in need, and seek ways to better engage and involve teachers in the process. Without them even the most meaningful changes will be denied passage at the schoolhouse door.
For decades now, charter schools have been positioned as the cure to all that ails the public school system. Supporters point to them as the gold standard. What we fail to acknowledge, however, is that for every successful KIPP or Democracy Prep, there are mediocre or struggling charters that aren’t improving outcomes. There are leaders and laggards in the charter movement, and many observers choose not to make the distinction.” ~ Patrick Richards, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation & author
** “There are few careers that are as publicly scrutinized and held to high expectations as a teaching. The public is hyper-aware of the potential harm educators may inflict on a child. Whether that influence is real or simply perceived, an educator can benefit by cautiously approaching his or her role toward each student.” ~ Courtney Stewart, Utah State University
** “Unfortunately, the way in which standardized tests have been used under federal law as almost the single measure of school quality has resulted in the frequent misuse of these instruments across the nation … Value-added scores: Although the federal government is encouraging states to use value-added scores for teacher, principal, and school evaluations, this policy direction is not appropriate. A strong body of recent research has found that there is no valid method of calculating ‘value-added’ scores which compare pass rates from one year to the next, nor do current value-added models adequately account for factors outside the school that influence student performance scores. Thus, other than for research or experimental purposes, this technique will not be employed in Vermont schools for any consequential purpose.” ~ Vermont Board of Education
** “There is no doubt that the new standards are more rigorous. They will require more of our students, our teachers, and our parents. Knowing what you are doing, instead of just knowing a set of rules, is the essential foundation for applying math to the real world. That’s not fuzzy math. It is smart.” ~ Solomon Friedberg, Boston College
** www.edweb.com/amazon.html ~ Here students can “explore the geography of the Ecuadorian Amazon through online games and activities.”
** www.sharemylesson.com ~ This site is “by teachers, for teachers,” offering, to date, more than 294,000 resources, including those for the Common Core.
** www.scholastic.com/cultivatingdata.com ~ This site offers “a new standards-aligned program designed to address data analysis and its graphic representations in a real-world context meaningful to grades 7-8 and advanced students.”
** http://learnbig.com ~ This site hopes to change the way people learn by combining “the power of technology, community, and ease of use for all types of learners” and offers more than 14,000 digital learning resources.