A few noteworthy happenings in education:
1. As of December 10, the Every Student Succeed Act replaced the No Child Left Behind Law of 2001.
2. Under ESSA, all those hard-won Arne Duncan/Obama state waivers will be null and void as of August 1, 2016 when ESSA is fully in place for the 2016-17 school year.
3. Senators Alexander (R) and Murray (D), who together led the ESSA effort, will now hold at least 3 major oversight hearings on the law this year with education department officials, teachers, school board members, and state school chiefs.
4. Arne Duncan has now stepped down as U.S. secretary of education, replaced by former New York education chief and very controversial John King, Jr.
5. The Next Generation Science Standards established in 2013 have now been adopted by 26 states; they favor the teaching of a deeper understanding of science principles instead of just rote memorization.
6. In the omnibus federal budget deal passed in December, Title I for our neediest students will get about $14.9 billion, and state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will rise to $11.9 billion. Head Start will jump to $9.2 billion, and the U.S. Department of Education is now in line for a $1.2 billion increase.
7. The new National Education Technology Plan includes redesigning teacher-prep programs, improving tech-based assessments, and establishing “a robust technology infrastructure.”
8. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest about $34 million in initiatives to improve teacher-prep programs’ overall effectiveness.