USDED Threatens Federal School Aid Cuts Over Opt-Outs

Students in Computer Lab --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education threatened funding cuts if schools continue to have opt-outs.

Merry Christmas to you.

Oh, and this is after we have been told that schools and states will have more control after the Republican-led Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the form of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The Journal News out of New York reports:

The U.S. Department of Education warned states this week that federal school aid may be withheld withheld next year if less than 95 percent of students take government-mandated exams.

In New York, Title I funding that exceeds $1.1 billion could be at risk if the opt outs continue. The issue is pronounced in New York: 20 percent of students in grades 3-8 opted out of the tests last April in protest to the controversial Common Core exams.

“A high-quality, annual statewide assessment system that includes all students is essential to provide local leaders, educators, and parents with the information they need to identify the resources and supports that are necessary to help every student succeed in school and in a career,” the U.S. Department of Education wrote to state education departments Tuesday.

This threat was in the same letter I reported on last week where the department said there was no provisions for students to opt-out.

Mike Lee: There’s a Better Way to Improve America’s Schools

U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) spoke out in opposition of the ESEA reauthorization, the Every Student Succeeds Act, Tuesday morning.  The bill passed Wednesday morning, but I wanted to highlight his speech as he was one of our champions in the Senate yesterday.

Here is the video:

Here’s a transcript:

Later today the Senate will vote on the “Every Student Succeeds Act” – a bill that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is the legislation governing federal K-12 education policy.

By all accounts, the Senate is expected to pass this bill, with a bipartisan majority, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law.

This would be a serious setback for America’s schools, teachers, and students, one that will have sweeping consequences for decades to come… because when we get education policy wrong – as this bill does and as we have for so many years – it affects not just the quality of education students receive as children, but the quality of life available to them as adults.

The problem is not just the particular provisions of this bill, but the dysfunctional and outdated model of education on which it’s built – a model that concentrates authority over education decisions in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, instead of parents, teachers, principals, and local school boards.

For the past 50 years, this model has defined and guided the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – and the bill before us today is no exception.

Not coincidentally, this central-planning model has also failed to produce any meaningful improvements in academic achievement – especially for students from low-income communities.

In fact, since 1969, test scores in reading and math have hardly budged for public school students of all ages – even while per-pupil spending has nearly doubled and school staff has increased more than 80 percent.

And yet, here we are: once again on the verge of passing another ESEA reauthorization built on the same K-12 education model that has trapped so many kids in failing schools and confined America’s education system to a state of stagnant mediocrity for half a century.

This is not simply a failure of policy – it’s a failure of imagination.

Our 1960s-era, top-down model of elementary and secondary schooling has endured, essentially unchallenged, for so many decades that the education establishment has come to take it for granted. For many policymakers and education officials in Washington and in state capitals around the country, the status quo isn’t just seen as the best way – but as the only way – to design K-12 education policy today.

Even the most creative policy thinking is confined within the narrow boundaries of the centrally planned status quo.

The only reform proposals that are given the time of day are those that seek to standardize America’s classrooms, enforce uniformity across school districts, and systematize the way that teachers teach and the way that students learn.

So we insist that the most important teaching decisions – about what to teach, when to teach it, and how to assess learning – are made by individuals outside of the classroom and are uniformly applied, and reapplied, regardless of the particular character and composition of a class.

We expect students of the same age to progress through the curriculum and master each subject at the exact same pace.

We assign students to their school according to zip codes.

We allocate public education funds to education agencies and schools – never directly to parents – and manage their use through bureaucratic restrictions and mandates.

We evaluate teachers and determine their compensation not on the basis their performance, but according to standards that can be quantified, like the number of years on the job. Student learning is assessed in much the same way – using standardized tests and age-based benchmarks.

And we never let stagnant educational outcomes or a persistent achievement gap shake our faith in the ability of central planners to engineer and superintend the education of the tens of millions of students in America.

These are the fundamental pillars of the status quo model for elementary and secondary education. And the Every Student Succeeds Act leaves them wholly intact.

But schools are not factories; education can’t be systematized; learning can’t be centrally planned.

Good teachers are successful not because they’re following some magic formula concocted by “experts” in Washington, but because they do what good teachers everywhere have always done: they work harder than just about anyone, and they know their class material inside and out; they communicate early and often with each students’ parents, so that they, and their students, can be held accountable; they observe and listen to their students, in order to understand their unique learning needs and goals, and tailor each day’s lesson plans accordingly; and they evaluate students honestly and comprehensively, assessing whether they’ve mastered the material, not just figured out how to take a test.

So instead of imposing an obsolete conformity on an invariably varied environment, we should be empowering teachers and parents with the tools they need to meet the unique educational needs of their students and children.

Instead of continuing to standardize and systematize education across the entire country, we should be trying to customize and personalize it for every student.

The good news is that we don’t need to start from scratch.

We know that local control over K-12 – and even pre-K – education is more effective than Washington, D.C.’s prescriptive, heavy handed approach, because we’ve seen it work in communities all across the country.

For years, education entrepreneurs in the states – including my home state of Utah – have been implementing and refining policies that put parents, teachers, principals, and school boards back in control of education policy.

Perhaps the most popular state-initiated reform is the movement toward school choice, which overturns the embarrassingly outdated and unfair practice of assigning schools based on zip codes.

We know that a good education starting at a young age is an essential ingredient for economic opportunity and democratic citizenship later in life. And we also know that America has always aspired to be a place where the condition of your birth doesn’t determine your path in life.

So why on earth would we prohibit parents from choosing the school that’s best for their children, especially if, as is far too common, their local school is underperforming?

School choice is one of the most important locally driven reforms aimed at resolving this fundamental injustice of our current assignment-by-zip-code system. But it’s not the only one.

There are also Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which give parents control over the per-pupil education dollars that would have been spent on their child by the school system.

There is the recent innovation of “course choice” – pioneered in my home state of Utah – which brings the same kind of education customization and à la carte choice that have spread on college campuses to elementary and secondary schools.

And of course there’s the distinctively American notion that parents, principals, school districts, and state officials have the right, and should have the ability, to opt-out of the most onerous, restrictive, misguided federal commands.

Whether it’s parents who don’t want their children wasting dozens of hours each year taking standardized tests, or state policymakers who develop local education reforms that are more effective and less expensive than federal one-size-fits-all policies, we should support the rights of all Americans to have a say in the education of their children.

Mr. President, the point isn’t that there’s a better way to improve America’s schools – but that there are fifty better ways… even thousands of better ways.

In our increasingly decentralized world, there are as many ideal education policies as there are children and teachers, communities and schools.

But Washington is standing in the way, distrustful of any alternative to the top-down education status quo. And under the Every Student Succeeds Act, Washington’s outdated, conformist policies will continue to be in the way.

Which is why I urge all of my colleagues to join me in voting against this bill.

But even if most senators vote in favor of the failed status quo, I’m confident that I have the majority of moms and dads in America on my side.

I often hear from Utah parents, calling or writing my office to express their support for local control over education.

I recently received an email from Kierston, a proud mother of four and the PTA president at her local school, who urged me to vote against this ESEA reauthorization.

I thought I’d let her have the last word today.

Based on years of experience with the public schools in her community, Kierston warns that maintaining Washington D.C.’s monopoly over America’s public schools will

“force my three incredibly different children who learn in very different ways into a box where my daughter will be forced to learn things she isn’t ready to learn […] my oldest who is ahead of his peers will be forced to slow down or help teach his peers in a way they don’t understand […] and my third will constantly be in trouble for not sitting still and pestering his peers because he understands quickly and is bored.”

“We need standards, we need benchmarks,” Kierston wrote, “but we also need to allow children to learn at their own pace. […] We need child centered education where children have the ability to go as fast or as slow as they need. […] Please think about the children of Utah. Vote against [the ESEA reauthorization]. Allow our kids the freedom to learn.”

U.S. Senate Sends ESEA Reauthorization to Obama

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

I reported at Caffeinated Thoughts that the U.S. Senate voted in favor – 85 to 12 – to pass the Every Student Achieves Act, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that replaces No Child Left Behind.  It is intended as a fix.  It may provide a little more flexibility for states, primarily through the repeal of the adequate yearly progress measure that is replaced by a statewide accountability process.

The bill is essentially saying… we’ll control you a little less. There’s really nothing to cheer about in this bill. No parental opt-out language, the testing mandate is still there, it doesn’t repeal Common Core (as Common Core didn’t exist in No Child Left Behind). Simply put, the U.S. Secretary of Education still has a lot of control K-12 education, and to top it off it starts a new federal preschool program.

As a reminder, here are the 12 primary concerns about what is expected to be law:

  1. PROCESS VIOLATES TENENTS OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT – OF TRANSPARENCY IN THE BILL PROCESS AND DELIBERATIVE DEBATE. Process of forwarding conference report echoes the process of (Un) Affordable Care Act “You have to pass it to see what’s in it” – that is. Congress won’t be reading it.
  2. HEAVILY INCENTIVIZES STATES TO MAINTAIN COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS: As a requirement of the Act, states must “demonstrate” to the Secretary that they have adopted standards that are aligned to the same definition of “college and career” standards used to force states into adopting Common Core under NCLB waivers.
  3. ASSESSSMENT OF NON-COGNITIVE ATTITUDES, BEHAVIORS, and MINDSETS: Bill will maintain momentum for increasing non-academic data collection of student and family information into statewide longitudinal data systems.
  4. PARENT RIGHTS: The Salmon Amendment in HR5 that allowed parents to opt out of high-stakes state assessments is no longer included. Students whose parents opt them out of the test, must be included in the 95% participation formula.
  5. EROSION OF STATE POWER OVER EDUCATION: The state accountability system must be structured as per the federal bill.
  6. FEDERAL CONTROL OF STANDARDS CONTENT: Bill language appears to require standards that align with career and technical education standards, indicating that the standards must align to the federally approved Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  7. NO CHECKS ON FEDERAL POWER, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS JUDGE AND JURY OF ITS OWN ACTIVITY – NO SUNSET OF LAW: The framework would only “authorize” ESEA for four more years, as opposed to the typical five, but, there’s no sunset provision in the bill, so it could go on in perpetuity.
  8. EXPANSION OF GOVERNMENT ROLE IN CHILDCARE/DISINCENTIVE TO ACTIVELY SEEK EMPLOYMENT: Bill is said to expand Head Start to childcare with Child Care Development Block Grant Act of 2014 so that no work requirements will be expected of low income parents to access grant money to pay for childcare.
  9. ADVANCES PROFITING BY PRIVATE CORPORATIONS USING EDUCATION DOLLARS THAT SHOULD GO TO CLASSROOMS: Increasing the education budget to fund private investors to implement government- selected social goals is outside the scope of improving education, and outside the authority of Congress as described in the U.S. Constitution.
  10. INCREASED ESEA SPENDING: ESSA authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 2017-2020. Spending authority will increase by 2% each year.
  11. EROSION OF LOCAL CONTROL: The conference report language encourages states to form consortia that, without congressional approval, may be determined illegal.
  12. DATA PRIVACY: Language in the conference report appears to rein in the Secretary of Education’s power and protect student data by inserting prohibitions of collecting additional student data, but makes no attempt to reverse the harm already done by Secretary Duncan’s modification of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), James Risch (R-ID), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and David Vitter (R-LA) voted against cloture and the bill’s final passage. Cruz voted against cloture but missed the final vote, and U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for in favor of cloture, but against final passage (so we’re not giving him credit).

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was absent for the cloture vote, but voted for the bill’s final passage. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was absent for both the cloture vote and the final vote.

ESEA Reauthorization Conference Report Advances to Final Vote in the Senate

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

The ESEA reauthorization conference report, S.1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) advanced in the U.S. Senate on a 84 to 12 cloture vote. The vote took place after an hour-and-a-half of “debate.”

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that the final vote is scheduled for tomorrow – Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 10:45a (EST).  He inferred during his comments following the cloture vote that the bill’s passage is pretty much in the bag and then proceeded to pat himself and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on the back.  It was nauseating.

Yesterday, Politico reported that outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that the House vote last week “gave him hope for democracy.”

It did the exact opposite for me, and today’s vote tarnished my view even further. How can we have a healthy, functional representative democracy when our elected representatives in the U.S House and U.S. Senate vote on a bill that is over 1000 pages a few days after it is made public. The House voted on this two days after the conference report was released. The Senate had one week.

One week is not long enough or somebody would have called Alexander on his B.S. that this bill allows parents to opt-out and that it would get rid of Common Core.  It does neither.  As far as “fixing” No Child Left Behind how can one say that with a straight face. It doesn’t even do that.

Here are the Senators who voted no on cloture. Please take time to thank them as they took a stand against ESEA reauthorization.

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), James Risch (R-ID), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and David Vitter (R-LA).

Apparently U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were too busy running for President to come back to DC to vote.

Action Needed: ESSA Vote Expected in Senate on Tuesday

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, on Tuesday.

There are several ways that you can take action.

You can tweet your Senators, click here to join a Twitter campaign that includes pre-loaded tweets.  You can also leave a comment on their Facebook page or call. Go here for the list of Senators, their Facebook pages and DC office phone numbers.

You can also call the primary U.S. Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Be sure to contact your Senators TODAY!

Here are some talking points from a recent analysis of the bill:

  1. PROCESS VIOLATES TENENTS OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT – OF TRANSPARENCY IN THE BILL PROCESS AND DELIBERATIVE DEBATE. Process of forwarding conference report echoes the process of (Un) Affordable Care Act “You have to pass it to see what’s in it” – that is. Congress won’t be reading it.
  2. HEAVILY INCENTIVIZES STATES TO MAINTAIN COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS: As a requirement of the Act, states must “demonstrate” to the Secretary that they have adopted standards that are aligned to the same definition of “college and career” standards used to force states into adopting Common Core under NCLB waivers.
  3. ASSESSSMENT OF NON-COGNITIVE ATTITUDES, BEHAVIORS, and MINDSETS: Bill will maintain momentum for increasing non-academic data collection of student and family information into statewide longitudinal data systems.
  4. PARENT RIGHTS: The Salmon Amendment in HR5 that allowed parents to opt out of high-stakes state assessments is no longer included. Students whose parents opt them out of the test, must be included in the 95% participation formula.
  5. EROSION OF STATE POWER OVER EDUCATION: The state accountability system must be structured as per the federal bill.
  6. FEDERAL CONTROL OF STANDARDS CONTENT: Bill language appears to require standards that align with career and technical education standards, indicating that the standards must align to the federally approved Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  7. NO CHECKS ON FEDERAL POWER, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS JUDGE AND JURY OF ITS OWN ACTIVITY – NO SUNSET OF LAW: The framework would only “authorize” ESEA for four more years, as opposed to the typical five, but, there’s no sunset provision in the bill, so it could go on in perpetuity.
  8. EXPANSION OF GOVERNMENT ROLE IN CHILDCARE/DISINCENTIVE TO ACTIVELY SEEK EMPLOYMENT: Bill is said to expand Head Start to childcare with Child Care Development Block Grant Act of 2014 so that no work requirements will be expected of low income parents to access grant money to pay for childcare.
  9. ADVANCES PROFITING BY PRIVATE CORPORATIONS USING EDUCATION DOLLARS THAT SHOULD GO TO CLASSROOMS: Increasing the education budget to fund private investors to implement government- selected social goals is outside the scope of improving education, and outside the authority of Congress as described in the U.S. Constitution.
  10. INCREASED ESEA SPENDING: ESSA authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 2017-2020. Spending authority will increase by 2% each year.
  11. EROSION OF LOCAL CONTROL: The conference report language encourages states to form consortia that, without congressional approval, may be determined illegal.
  12. DATA PRIVACY: Language in the conference report appears to rein in the Secretary of Education’s power and protect student data by inserting prohibitions of collecting additional student data, but makes no attempt to reverse the harm already done by Secretary Duncan’s modification of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

The New Common Core is Social-Emotional Learning

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) advocated for the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  He applauded social-emotional learning.  Watch below:

An excerpt: “I believe this bill helps us get back to redefining what the Common Core is. In my estimation the Common Core is – are we teaching kids mental discipline? The ability to be aware, the ability to be focused, the ability to cultivate one of the key components to a successful life and that is the ability to regulate your own emotional state. This comes well before science, technology, engineering and math. Teaching these key fundamental characteristics: mental discipline, physical discipline, focus, concentration, self-regulation – key components before you even get to the academic side… I believe there is a new way of educating our kids emerging here, there is a new Common Core developing and that is the mental discipline and the physical health of our young people.”

Ryan said in a prepared statement after voting in favor of the bill, “I am proud that this legislation includes language that will help expand and make the teaching of social and emotional learning more effective. As we have seen in my District social and emotional learning helps increase attendance, decrease suspensions and behavioral incidences, and improve attention and participation. Creating a healthy and safe environment for students to learn is essential to a quality education and I am glad that this legislation continues to advance this important cause.”

Social-Emotional learning is the new Common Core, and according to Congressman Ryan, the Every Student Succeeds Act supports that goal.  There is a reason that Democrats did a 100 percent 180º on this bill and 40 less Republicans voted in favor of it than last time.

HT: Alice Linahan

Every Student Succeeds Act Coasts Through House

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

The conference report for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act called the Every Student Succeeds Act passed this evening in the U.S. House of Representatives on a 359 to 64 vote.  Democrats voted 181 to 0. Republicans voted 179 to 64.  The conference report was just made public on Monday.  The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the bill next week.

The “Yea” votes included:

Abraham
Adams
Aderholt
Allen
Amodei
Ashford
Barletta
Barr
Barton
Bass
Beatty
Becerra
Benishek
Bera
Beyer
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (MI)
Black
Blum
Blumenauer
Bonamici
Bost
Boustany
Boyle, Brendan F.
Brady (PA)
Brady (TX)
Brooks (IN)
Brown (FL)
Brownley (CA)
Buchanan
Bucshon
Burgess
Bustos
Butterfield
Byrne
Calvert
Capps
Capuano
Cárdenas
Carney
Carson (IN)
Carter (GA)
Carter (TX)
Cartwright
Castor (FL)
Castro (TX)
Chu, Judy
Cicilline
Clark (MA)
Clarke (NY)
Clay
Cleaver
Clyburn
Coffman
Cohen
Cole
Collins (GA)
Collins (NY)
Comstock
Conaway
Connolly
Conyers
Cook
Cooper
Costa
Costello (PA)
Courtney
Cramer
Crawford
Crenshaw
Crowley
Cummings
Curbelo (FL)
Davis (CA)
Davis, Danny
Davis, Rodney
DeFazio
DeGette
Delaney
DeLauro
DelBene
Denham
Dent
DeSaulnier
Deutch
Diaz-Balart
Dingell
Doggett
Dold
Donovan
Doyle, Michael F.
Duckworth
Duffy
Duncan (TN)
Edwards
Ellison
Ellmers (NC)
Emmer (MN)
Engel
Eshoo
Esty
Farr
Fattah
Fincher
Fitzpatrick
Fleischmann
Flores
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foster
Foxx
Frankel (FL)
Frelinghuysen
Fudge
Gabbard
Gallego
Garamendi
Gibbs
Gibson

Goodlatte
Graham
Granger
Graves (GA)
Graves (MO)
Grayson
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Griffith
Grijalva
Grothman
Guthrie
Gutiérrez
Hahn
Hanna
Hardy
Hartzler
Hastings
Heck (NV)
Heck (WA)
Hensarling
Herrera Beutler
Higgins
Hill
Himes
Hinojosa
Honda
Hoyer
Hudson
Huffman
Huizenga (MI)
Hultgren
Hunter
Hurd (TX)
Hurt (VA)
Israel
Issa
Jackson Lee
Jeffries
Jenkins (KS)
Jenkins (WV)
Johnson (GA)
Johnson (OH)
Johnson, E. B.
Jolly
Joyce
Kaptur
Katko
Keating
Kelly (IL)
Kelly (PA)
Kennedy
Kildee
Kilmer
Kind
King (NY)
Kinzinger (IL)
Kirkpatrick
Kline
Knight
Kuster
LaHood
LaMalfa
Lance
Langevin
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Latta
Lawrence
Lee
Levin
Lewis
Lieu, Ted
Lipinski
LoBiondo
Loebsack
Lofgren
Long
Lowenthal
Lowey
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Lynch
MacArthur
Maloney, Carolyn
Maloney, Sean
Marino
Matsui
McCarthy
McCaul
McClintock
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
McHenry
McKinley
McMorris Rodgers
McNerney
McSally
Meehan
Meng
Messer
Mica
Miller (MI)
Moolenaar
Moore
Moulton
Mullin
Murphy (FL)
Murphy (PA)
Nadler
Napolitano
Neal
Neugebauer
Newhouse
Noem
Nolan
Norcross

Nugent
Nunes
O’Rourke
Olson
Pallone
Pascrell
Paulsen
Pearce
Pelosi
Perlmutter
Peters
Peterson
Pingree
Pittenger
Pitts
Pocan
Poliquin
Polis
Pompeo
Posey
Price (NC)
Price, Tom
Quigley
Rangel
Reed
Reichert
Renacci
Ribble
Rice (NY)
Rice (SC)
Richmond
Rigell
Roby
Roe (TN)
Rogers (KY)
Rokita
Rooney (FL)
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Ross
Rouzer
Roybal-Allard
Royce
Ruiz
Rush
Russell
Ryan (OH)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sarbanes
Scalise
Schakowsky
Schiff
Schrader
Scott (VA)
Scott, Austin
Scott, David
Sensenbrenner
Serrano
Sessions
Sewell (AL)
Sherman
Shimkus
Shuster
Simpson
Sinema
Sires
Slaughter
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Speier
Stefanik
Stivers
Swalwell (CA)
Takano
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Thompson (PA)
Thornberry
Tiberi
Tipton
Titus
Tonko
Torres
Trott
Tsongas
Turner
Upton
Valadao
Van Hollen
Vargas
Veasey
Vela
Velázquez
Visclosky
Wagner
Walberg
Walden
Walorski
Walters, Mimi
Walz
Wasserman Schultz
Waters, Maxine
Watson Coleman
Welch
Westerman
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Wilson (FL)
Wilson (SC)
Wittman
Womack
Woodall
Yarmuth
Young (AK)
Young (IA)
Young (IN)
Zeldin
Zinke

The nay votes included:

Amash
Babin
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn
Brat
Bridenstine
Brooks (AL)
Buck
Chabot
Chaffetz
Clawson (FL)
Culberson
DeSantis
DesJarlais
Duncan (SC)
Farenthold
Fleming
Franks (AZ)
Gohmert
Gosar
Gowdy
Graves (LA)

Guinta
Harper
Harris
Hice, Jody B.
Holding
Huelskamp
Johnson, Sam
Jones
Jordan
Kelly (MS)
King (IA)
Labrador
Lamborn
Loudermilk
Love
Lummis
Marchant
Massie
Meadows
Miller (FL)
Mooney (WV)
Mulvaney

Palazzo
Palmer
Perry
Poe (TX)
Ratcliffe
Rogers (AL)
Rohrabacher
Rothfus
Salmon
Sanford
Schweikert
Smith (MO)
Smith (NE)
Stewart
Stutzman
Walker
Weber (TX)
Wenstrup
Yoder
Yoho

There were 10 who did not vote:

 

Aguilar
Cuellar
Garrett
Meeks

Payne
Ruppersberger
Sanchez, Loretta
Takai

Webster (FL)
Williams

 

 

Congress Punts on Student Data Privacy in ESEA Reauthorization

privacyEducation Week in an article yesterday noted the absence of student data protection in the ESEA reauthorization conference report called the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Benjamin Harold writes:

Congress largely punted on student data privacy, declining to include in the ESEA reauthorization amendments that would have updated the country’s major federal student-data-privacy law or created a special committee to consider the best way forward on the issue. The changes there were included don’t represent any big shifts in policy, but do signal Congress’ attention to the issue.

That lack of tangible action will mean continued uncertainty for educators and ed-tech vendors alike…

…Every Student Succeeds does include language that specifies that states and districts can use federal Title II funds for “supporting and developing efforts to train teachers on the appropriate use of student data to ensure that individual student privacy is protected.”

Frankly this use of Title II funds doesn’t negate the student data mining that is ongoing so I really can’t give Congress much credit for this; especially when you have state-sanctioned and federally approved and financed Statewide Longitudinal Database Systems, as well as, students having all sorts of surveys being dropped on them.  Then you have most of the attention being focused on private sector student data collection as if it’s ok when government does it.

Top 12 Concerns About Every Student Succeeds Act (S 1177 & HR 5)

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

The information below is a collaboration between Mary Byrne, EdD of Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, Emmett McGroarty of American Principles Project, Jane Robbins of American Principles Project, Erin Tuttle of Hoosiers Against Common Core, Karen Effrem, MD of Education Liberty Watch and Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Glyn Wright of Eagle Forum and Kevin Baird of Eagle Forum.

Top 12 concerns about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA reauthorization):

  1. PROCESS VIOLATES TENENTS OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT – OF TRANSPARENCY IN THE BILL PROCESS AND DELIBERATIVE DEBATE. Process of forwarding conference report echoes the process of (Un) Affordable Care Act “You have to pass it to see what’s in it” – that is. Congress won’t be reading it.
  2. HEAVILY INCENTIVIZES STATES TO MAINTAIN COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS: As a requirement of the Act, states must “demonstrate” to the Secretary that they have adopted standards that are aligned to the same definition of “college and career” standards used to force states into adopting Common Core under NCLB waivers.
  3. ASSESSSMENT OF NON-COGNITIVE ATTITUDES, BEHAVIORS, and MINDSETS: Bill will maintain momentum for increasing non-academic data collection of student and family information into statewide longitudinal data systems.
  4. PARENT RIGHTS: The Salmon Amendment in HR5 that allowed parents to opt out of high-stakes state assessments is no longer included. Students whose parents opt them out of the test, must be included in the 95% participation formula.
  5. EROSION OF STATE POWER OVER EDUCATION: The state accountability system must be structured as per the federal bill.
  6. FEDERAL CONTROL OF STANDARDS CONTENT: Bill language appears to require standards that align with career and technical education standards, indicating that the standards must align to the federally approved Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  7. NO CHECKS ON FEDERAL POWER, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS JUDGE AND JURY OF ITS OWN ACTIVITY – NO SUNSET OF LAW: The framework would only “authorize” ESEA for four more years, as opposed to the typical five, but, there’s no sunset provision in the bill, so it could go on in perpetuity.
  8. EXPANSION OF GOVERNMENT ROLE IN CHILDCARE/DISINCENTIVE TO ACTIVELY SEEK EMPLOYMENT: Bill is said to expand Head Start to childcare with Child Care Development Block Grant Act of 2014 so that no work requirements will be expected of low income parents to access grant money to pay for childcare.
  9. ADVANCES PROFITING BY PRIVATE CORPORATIONS USING EDUCATION DOLLARS THAT SHOULD GO TO CLASSROOMS: Increasing the education budget to fund private investors to implement government- selected social goals is outside the scope of improving education, and outside the authority of Congress as described in the U.S. Constitution.
  10. INCREASED ESEA SPENDING: ESSA authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 2017-2020. Spending authority will increase by 2% each year.
  11. EROSION OF LOCAL CONTROL: The conference report language encourages states to form consortia that, without congressional approval, may be determined illegal.
  12. DATA PRIVACY: Language in the conference report appears to rein in the Secretary of Education’s power and protect student data by inserting prohibitions of collecting additional student data, but makes no attempt to reverse the harm already done by Secretary Duncan’s modification of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)


Introduction

Legislators are headstrong in staying the course and passing a 2015 reauthorization of ESEA currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act. They say this law is fundamentally broken and we need to fix it this year. But, the rush to do so, undermines the democratic process of public hearing and deliberation before a vote, which results in the demise of our education system for America’s children.

The bill making process began last spring with two different versions of a reauthorization bill. The conference bill under consideration in the House this week will largely be the Senate version (previously known as the Every Child Achieves Act) combined with

House version (previously titled the Student Success Act) and the conference report will be titled the Every Student Succeeds Act. Like preceding versions of the ESEA, the bill is written with language that appears to empower worthy goals such as closing student achievement gaps and preparing students for college and careers, eliminating common core and reigning in the U.S. Secretary of Education. Saturday’s WSJ wrote an editorial opining that, “A bipartisan compromise has emerged from the Senate and House that represents the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century. It’s far better than the status quo that would continue if nothing passes,” but the reality is, the bill  – expands federal control over state standards, affirms cronyism camouflaged as public/private-partnership, and makes state departments of education the enforcers of federal education policies that are detrimental to students, parent rights, local control, and the teaching profession.

PROCESS VIOLATES TENENTS OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT – OF TRANSPARENCY IN THE BILL PROCESS AND DELIBERATIVE DEBATE.

Process of forwarding conference report echoes the process of (Un) Affordable Care Act “You have to pass it to see what’s in it” – that is. Congress won’t be reading it.

    • Most recent update of conference report is 1,061 pages developed by a handful of bill sponsors before the whole of the conference committee was selected;
    • Conference bill developed without public input especially of parents, though its paid for by public funds, forwarded to the floor during a holiday season when the public is distracted;
    • Proposed bill will be released to legislators and the public today (Monday, November 30 with the possibility of a HOUSE vote on Wednesday, Dec. 2 or Thursday, Dec. 3) – with no time for public hearing, critical reading and mark up, deliberation and debate; SENATE vote could be as early as Dec. 5 or 7;
    • The rush is highly suspicious, given that NCLB was due for reauthorization in 2007 (five years after it was signed into law) but, the Congress took 13 years to decide to take up the legislation.
    • Appears to be a Speaker Ryan redeux of the same strategies that stoked public anger against Speaker Boehner.

HEAVILY INCENTIVIZES STATES TO MAINTAIN COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS:

As a requirement of the Act, states must “demonstrate” to the Secretary that they have adopted standards that are aligned to the same definition of “college and career” standards used to force states into adopting Common Core under NCLB waivers. The requirement for the alignment of standards to this definition makes prohibitions against the Secretary meaningless, the statute itself dictates the alignment.

Sec. 1111(b)(1)(D)(i): IN GENERAL.—Each State shall demonstrate that the challenging State academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the system of public higher education in the State and relevant State career and technical education standards.

The state must adopted content standards and at least three levels of achievement standards, collectively referred to in the Act as “challenging state academic standards.“ The standards must include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement of all public school students in the state.” If the standards must include the same “knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement” for all students, then, by definition they cannot be too high, or possibly be based on non-academic expectations. The term skills infers non-cognitive skills– meaning attitudes, values, and mindsets, which, to date, have no valid and reliable metric.

Bill proponents tout that the bill will reduce testing because states will be allowed to use ACT and SAT in lieu of the 11th grade statewide assessment previously required in NCLB. The reality is these two tests are now being designed to align to Common Core State Standards. ACT and the College Board were members of the exclusive standards development team publicized in 2009 by the National Governors Association press release. Replacing Grade 11 state tests with the ACT or SAT and evaluating school performance based on student performance on these tests heavily incentivizes states to maintain Common Core State Standards. (see Item #5)

In addition, this language gives a license to state boards of education, under the influence of the National Association of State Boards of Education which has been heavily funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, to retain Common Core State Standards that are promoted as preparing students to be “college and career ready” without ever defining what colleges and what careers students would be prepared to assume.

ASSESSSMENT OF NON-COGNITIVE ATTITUDES, BEHAVIORS, and MINDSETS:

Bill will maintain momentum for increasing non-academic data collection of student and family information into statewide longitudinal data systems. The ESSA requires states to report on student factors beyond standardized test scores into their accountability systems. Bill language includes the following:

Accountability systems must include “not less than one indicator of school quality or student success that (aa) allows for meaningful differentiation in school performance; (bb) is valid, reliable, comparable, and statewide . . . which may include measures of – (I) Student engagement; (II) Educator engagement; (III) Student access to and completion of advanced coursework; (IV) Postsecondary readiness; (V) School climate and safety; and (VI) any other indicator the state chooses that meets the requirements of this clause.”

Section 1005 (amending Section 1111) (c)(4)(B)(v)(II)]: For purposes of subclause (I), the State may include measures of—

(III) student engagement;

(IV) educator engagement;

(V) student access to and completion of advanced coursework;

(VI) postsecondary readiness;

(VII) school climate and safety; and

(VIII) any other indicator the State chooses that meets the requirements of this clause.

As reported in Education Week, “it’s not unreasonable to assume that states could use the “any other indicator’ language to support inclusion of students’ social and emotional skills, girt or growth mindsets in their accountability models. This flaw in the language opens the door to potential for bias especially when unlicensed personnel administer psychological assessments embedded in observation or test tasks. The potential for these types of assessments administered in this manner are not only abusive to students, and potentially damaging to their future, they are potentially damaging to schools that will be held. 1. These new ESSA plans would start in the 2017-18 school year.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2015/11/new_esea_may_use_non-cognitive_traits_in_accountability_is_that_a_good_idea.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news2   

In September of this year, The Walton Family Foundation announced that it’s investing in research on the measurement of non-cognitive traits such as grit and persistence in classroom settings. The grants total $6.5 million over three years. They represent a new direction for the organization, which largely has focused its education philanthropy on expanding school choice and charter schools. It’s a sign that the field of study, known as character education and social-emotional learning, is maturing and gathering interest from many corners of the education policy and philanthropy worlds. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/09/30/measuring-grit-character-draw-new-investments.html

PARENT RIGHTS:

The Salmon Amendment in HR5 that allowed parents to opt out of high-stakes state assessments is no longer included: Students whose parents opt them out of the test, must be included in the 95% participation formula. Under the ESSA accountability system, states must annually measure 95% of their students and every subgroup of students and penalize a school doesn’t meet 95% through the state accountability system.

Sec. 1111(c)(4)(E): ANNUAL MEASUREMENT OF ACHIEVEMENT.—

(i) Annually measure the achievement of not less than 95 percent of all students, and 95 percent of all students in each subgroup of students, who are enrolled in public schools on the assessments described under subsection (b)(2)(v)(I).

(ii) For the purpose of measuring, calculating, and reporting on the indicator described in subparagraph (B)(i), include in the denominator the greater of—

(I) 95 percent of all such students, or 95 percent of all such students in the subgroup, as the case may be; or

(II) the number of students participating in the assessments.

(iii) Provide a clear and understandable explanation of how the State will factor the requirement of clause (i) of this subparagraph into the statewide accountability system.

ESSA doesn’t say exactly how much, but it is still prescriptive to the states. In fact, it simply makes the state the enforcer of a federal requirement loathed by parents, students, and teachers.

EROSION OF STATE POWER OVER EDUCATION:

The state accountability system must be structured as per the federal bill. ESEA gives the federal department of education control over assessment content, expanding the assessment to learning environment in addition to student performance. State tests still have to be a part of state accountability systems and encourages the use of next generation computer adaptive testing (CAT),

Sec. 1111(b)(2)(J) ADAPTIVE ASSESSMENTS.—

(i) IN GENERAL.—Subject to clause (ii), a State retains the right to develop

and administer computer adaptive assessments as the assessments described in this paragraph, provided the computer adaptive assessments meet the requirements of this paragraph, except that—

Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced tests are designed to be computer adaptive tests that are encouraged by the conference report, yet no validity and reliability data have been published to date. Next Generation Tests delivered through CAT are vulnerable to problems associated with validity and reliability. For example,

  • According to one Pearson analyst, “Implementing a CAT raises interesting and complex considerations for scoring. Multiple implementation scenarios are possible.”
  • Although experts seem to agree that computer-adaptive testing works well with multiple-choice questions, or one-word-response questions, but there are differing opinions about how it does with longer answers or with essays. That makes computer-adaptive testing more suited to some subjects than others.
  • Competence with technology devices outside of school does not necessarily generalize to competence with computer-based testing formats. Student responses to test questions may be compromised by the students’ facility with the specific type of hardware used in testing.
  • To model the characteristics of the test items (e.g., to pick the optimal item), all the items of the test must be pre-administered to a sizable, representative sample and then analyzed. To achieve this, new items must be mixed into the operational items of an exam (the responses are recorded but do not contribute to the test-takers’ scores). This presents significant logistical, ethical, and security issues. For example, it is impossible to field an operational adaptive test with brand-new, unseen items. (emphasis added) And each program must decide what percentage of the test can reasonably be composed of unscored pilot test items. , 
  • It is often infeasible to allow test takers to review or revisit items and change their responses.  The usual reason for not allowing item review is that the CAT algorithm selects each item in sequence depending on the current ability estimate; therefore, returning to an item that was administered previously and changing the response would change the ability estimate one way or the other and could add instability to the estimate.
  • Many of the challenges that will arise for testing students with disabilities in an adaptive setting fall into the categories just stated. The implication for this is, for example, that students with learning disabilities defined by deficits in math fluency, dyscalculia, may perform poorly on relatively easy test items that measure basic calculation but perform well on relatively difficult items that measure higher-level mathematical knowledge. The consequences of such idiosyncratic responding in an adaptive setting can be disastrous in terms of arriving at a stable and accurate proficiency estimate.

Bill proponents tout that the bill will reduce testing because states will be allowed to use ACT and SAT in lieu of the 11th grade statewide assessment previously required in NCLB. The reality is these two tests are now being designed to align to Common Core State Standards. ACT and the College Board were members of the exclusive standards development team publicized in 2009 by the National Governors Association press release. The test publishers and vendors will control the states exit certification requirements of students. If students do not perform well on these tests aligned to common core, they will be identified as not-college or career ready, and be referred for intervention.

The reality is, the NAEP, SAT and ACT scores gathered since the implementation of Common Core state standards have flat lined or declined. Since the implementation of common core in 2010, but before full alignment of the SAT test to Common Core standards, scores of college bound seniors have plummeted in mathematics, reading and writing. The writing scores are the lowest since in the history of the writing section of the test, that is, since 2006 and especially since 2013 – three years after CC standards and instruction techniques were introduced. Not only has common core not improved student learning, SAT scores show students are less college ready than before common core. Expansion of student numbers taking the test does not fully explain the downward trajectory. NAEP and ACT scores show the same pattern of results.

So, the federal government is still determining the conditions of what should be state-level decision making, and encouraging the implementation of assessment plans incorporating concepts that have no independent external reviews establishing validity or reliability data to support their use. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2015/11/accountability_and_the_esea_re.html

FEDERAL CONTROL OF STANDARDS CONTENT:

Bill language appears to require standards that align with career and technical education standards, indicating that the standards must align to the federally approved Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Section 1003A Direct Student Services. (c)(3)(A)(ii)(II): leads to industry-recognized credentials that meet the quality criteria established by the State under section 123(a) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (29 U.S.C. 3102);

ESSA continues with its prescriptions: A state’s standards must align with higher-education requirements and with “challenging standards a.k.a. “career and technical education standards”:

“(D) ALIGNMENT.-

In general – Each State shall demonstrate that the challenging State academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the system of public higher education in the State and relevant State career and technical education standards. [Section 1005 (amending Section 1111) (b)(1)(D), p. 48]

The required higher-education alignment is puzzling, because the entrance requirements of community colleges obviously differ from those of four-year universities. Presumably, states will align their standards to the least demanding higher-education requirements (as Common Core does), especially considering this:

“(B) Same Standards.-Except as provided in subparagraph (E), the standards required by

   subparagraph (A) shall-

  1. apply to all public schools and public school students in the State; and

            with respect to academic achievement standards, include the same

            knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all public school

            students in the State.”  [Section 1005 (amending Section 1111) (b)(1)(B)]

All these statutory alignment requirements will put downward pressure on the states to keep low-quality, community-college-focused standards like Common Core.

NO CHECKS ON FEDERAL POWER, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS JUDGE AND JURY OF ITS OWN ACTIVITY – NO SUNSET OF LAW:

The framework would only “authorize” ESEA for four more years, as opposed to the typical five, but, there’s no sunset provision in the bill, so it could go on in perpetuity. The history of NCLB has taught us that Congress allows schools and school children to languish under dysfunctional education laws rather than defund and end bad legislation. No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2001 was scheduled for should have been reconsidered for reauthorization every 5 years, but, almost 14 years have passed since then president George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind (NCLB), making it the educational law of the land. A review of a decade of evidence demonstrates that NCLB has failed badly both in terms of its own goals and more broadly. It has neither significantly increased academic performance nor significantly reduced achievement gaps, even as measured by standardized exams. Congress has no past evidence to continue a poorly conceived intervention heavily supported by education lobbyists.

In addition, the same language prohibiting the federal government from interferences in state powers in this bill existed in NCLB, but that language did not inhibit Secretary of Education Arne Duncan from ignoring prohibitions and implementing incentives, such as a quid pro quo for the NCLB waiver, to advance the common core state standards initiative which he laid out in his Nov 2010 address to UNESCO, but, failed to tell the American public.

EXPANSION OF GOVERNMENT ROLE IN CHILDCARE/DISINCENTIVE TO ACTIVELY SEEK EMPLOYMENT:

Bill is said to expand Head Start to childcare with Child Care Development Block Grant Act of 2014 so that no work requirements will be expected of low income parents to access grant money to pay for childcare, and encourages blending of public/private partnerships.

SEC. 9212. PRESCHOOL DEVELOPMENT GRANTS (h)(1):

(D) if applicable, the degree to which the State used information from the report required under section 13 of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 to inform activities under this section, and how this information was useful in coordinating, and collaborating among, programs and funding sources;

(E) the extent to which activities funded by the initial grant led to the blending or braiding of other public and private funding;

In addition, The Preschool Development Grants in the conference report will  spend another $250 million on a 46th federal preschool program and  it is wrong for the following reasons (For more detail, please see the full one page summary HERE):

  1. The grants require alignment to Head Start and the Child Development Block Grants that in turn require [in eleven different places in the current Head Start statute, such as Section 642B(a)(2)(B)(iii)] national preschool standards. These standards are being correlated and aligned to the K-12 Common Core by national organizations and states like California.  They include very controversial and subjective psychosocial standards like gender identity (p. 27), creating a “Baby Common Core.”  (See more details on the problematic language fro the original Senate language HERE). 
  2. The language prohibiting federal interference in “early learning and development guidelines, standards, or specific assessments, including the standards or measures that States use to develop, implement, or improve such guidelines, standards, or assessments” on page 968 of the conference report is useless — programs are already required to adhere to Head Start, which demands federal content standards (see above). In addition, preschool programs in other sections of the bill such as Section 1006 (amending Section 1112)(c)(7) also demand adherence to Head Start’s performance standards that include these national “Baby Common Core” Standards. 
  3. A research compilation containing approximately 30 studies of Head Start and state preschool programs documents overwhelming evidence of ineffectiveness; fade out of beneficial effects in the early grades; or actual academic or emotional harm.  The most recent study is from Tennessee, Senator Alexander’s home state, in September of this year.

ADVANCES PROFITING BY PRIVATE CORPORATIONS USING EDUCATION DOLLARS THAT SHOULD GO TO CLASSROOMS:

While it is well known how test and education materials publishers and private foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation have provided grants to education non-government organizations to advance private entities ‘education reform agenda, the draft bill language allowed states to use Title II funds (now meant for class size reduction and teacher quality initiatives, for social impact bonds, which is another profiteering scheme to loot tax payer dollars meant for education of children.

(40) PAY FOR SUCCESS INITIATIVE.—The term ‘pay for success initiative’ means a performance-based grant, contract, or cooperative agreement awarded by a public entity in which a commitment is made to pay for improved outcomes that result in social benefit and direct cost savings or cost avoidance to the public sector. Such an initiative shall include—

‘(A) a feasibility study on the initiative describing how the proposed intervention is based on evidence of effectiveness;

(B) a rigorous, third-party evaluation that uses experimental or quasi-experimental design or other research methodologies that allow for the strongest possible causal inferences to determine whether the initiative has

met its proposed outcomes;

(C) an annual, publicly available report on the progress of the initiative; and

(D) a requirement that payments are made to the recipient of a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement only when agreed upon outcomes are achieved, except that the entity may make payments to the third party conducting the evaluation described in subparagraph (B).

(Goldman Sachs is a leading investor in the social impact bond, an innovative financing tool that leverages private investment to support high-impact social programs. To date, GS has been the lead investor in four social impact bonds, partnering with nonprofits and civic leaders on programs that provide essential services to underserved communities. http://www.goldmansachs.com/what-we-do/investing-and-lending/impact-investing/social-impact-bonds/index.html?cid=PS_01_47_07_00_00_00_01sSocialImpact

Increasing the education budget to fund private investors to implement government- selected social goals is outside the scope of improving education, and outside the authority of Congress as described in the U.S. Constitution.

INCREASED ESEA SPENDING.

ESSA authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 2017-2020. Spending authority will increase by 2% each year. Proponents say the cost associated with this legislation is within the newly passed budget, but, the question is whether any money should be controlled by the federal government to advance an unconstitutional agenda. Given that NO federally funded program has delivered on its promises to enhance student learning and close achievement gaps, Congress has no moral authority to authorize more spending on ineffective programs.

EROSION OF LOCAL CONTROL:

The conference report language encourages states to form consortia that, without congressional approval, may be determined illegal. Sec. 2002(3)(B) encourages partnerships and arrangements that compromise local and state control over public education. In particular, consortium of states diminishes state sovereignty over education of its citizens.

Sec. 2002(3)(B): may be a nonprofit organization, State educational agency, or other public entity, or consortium of such entities (including a consortium of States);

Assessment consortia funded under Race To The Top Grants, acted to meet the requirements of the grant award without getting approval of their consortium before beginning their work. Not having approval of their consortia by Congress violated the Interstate Commerce Act. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium agreement is being challenged in courts throughout the country including Missouri, West Virginia, and North Dakota. In spring 2015, a Missouri court ruled in Sauer v Nixon that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an illegal state compact http://www.fredsauermatrix.com/common-core-lawsuit-sauer-vs-nixon/. This fall, an appeals court dismissed the appeal by the governor. The conference report creates a climate for future lawsuits under the same act.

DATA PRIVACY:

Language in the conference report appears to rein in the Secretary of Education’s power and protect student data by inserting prohibitions of collecting additional student data, but makes no attempt to reverse the harm already done by Secretary Duncan’s modification of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or prohibit private international corporations, such as PEARSON from collecting and warehousing personally identifiable student data.

Sec. 1111(e) PROHIBITION.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or permit the Secretary—

D) to require data collection under this part beyond data derived from existing Federal, State, and local reporting requirements.

FERPA allows designated agents access to personally identifiable student data without parents or emancipated students’ knowledge of its collection, assurance of who has access to it or state of the art protection of breaches and guarantee of compensation if personal identity information is compromised. Congressman Chaffetz’s  recent hearing on the unacceptably poor management of student data security by the U.S. Department of Education should cause legislators to prohibit the Secretary from collecting any student data until policies requiring parent permission and data security measures are in place.

The ESEA Reauthorization Conference Report Is Now Public

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

The conference report for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now called the Every Student Succeeds Act, has been made public.  It is 1,059 pages long and Congress is somehow supposed to throughly vet this bill and vote in two days.  This is simply not acceptable.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee puts a positive spin on the bill.  They claim:

  • Prohibits any agent of the federal government — including the secretary of education — from incentivizing, forcing, or coercing states into adopting Common Core, or interfering with a state’s standards or assessments.
  • Rejects policies and programs the secretary has used to coerce states to adopt Common Core, including waivers of K-12 education law and Race to the Top.
  • Prevents the secretary from imposing additional burdens on states and school districts through the regulatory process in areas of standards, assessments, and state accountability plans.

First, as it relates to Common Core, this bill is like slamming the barn door shut after the horses have already run out. The damage has been done.

Second, the bill still requires state plans and gives the Secretary of Education enormous authority to approve or disapprove them which in reality negates the claims that this bill do anything to help states get rid of Common Core.

Third, this bill expands early childhood funding and thus federal strings into pre-school.  The bill’s language still reflects a change in No Child Left Behind’s application to “all public elementary school and secondary school studentswithall public school students.”

Fourth, this bill still contains a testing mandate and the opt-out amendment that was added to the original House bill has been stripped out.

Let your voice be heard, contact your member of Congress today!

You can read the bill for yourself below or download here.