Sunday, November 29, 2015


This piece is taken directly from the Network for Public Education Website.   It concerns the problems with the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which is coming up in Congress this week.

They call the new bill a small improvement over No Child Left Behind. Read it and tell us what you think.

Help NPE Action STOP Damaging New Provisions in ESEA Reauthorization Bill

The new ESEA bill will be released in full on Monday, November 30, and is likely to be voted on by the House on December 2 and the following week in the Senate. We believe that this bill is a small improvement over the highly punitive No Child Left Behind law, which has given the Secretary of Education too much authority to prescribe unproven learning standards, unreliable teacher evaluation systems linked to test scores, and punitive policies in struggling schools.

Unfortunately the bill continues the annual mandate for testing in grades 3-8, and a waiver will still be needed if states want to give alternative assessments to more than one percent of their students with disabilities and English Language Learners after one year. The reality is many state exams are neither valid nor diagnostically useful for many of these students.
In addition, there are some new provisions that we are very concerned about:
  • The bill appears to require that “academic standards” including proficiency rates and growth based on state test scores, must count for at least 51% of any state’s accountability system. Some observers say that the bill would allow the Secretary of Education to determine the exact percentage of each factor in a state accountability system. This is not acceptable. Every state should be allowed to decide on its own system, including what percent to give standardized tests.
  • The bill would also allow states to use Title II funds, now meant for class size reduction and teacher quality initiatives, for Social Impact bonds, which amount to another profiteering scheme for Wall Street to loot our public schools. Recently, the New York Times reported on how Goldman Sachs helped fund a preschool program in Utah with Social Impact bonds. Goldman Sachs will now make hundreds of thousands of dollars, based on a flawed study that purported to show that 99 percent of these students will not require special education services – a far higher percent than any previous study. We vehemently oppose the inclusion of this provision in ESEA. If preschool is worth funding, and we believe that it is, it should be paid for by public funds and not provide another way for Wall Street profiteers to drain resources from our public schools.
We urge you to send a letter to your Senators and Representative now, to express your opposition to these two proposals. We have provided a sample letter you can send with just a few clicks, and if you can, please follow up with a phone call to their DC offices.
Time is short and we must let Congress know that our public schools can’t afford any new mandates for counterproductive high-stakes testing and opportunities for the private sector to profit off our kids

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