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Louisiana Research: When Tenure Ends, Teachers Leave.

In 2012, the Louisiana legislature passed Act 1, commonly known as the “teacher tenure law.” Moreover, the Louisiana State Department of Education (LDOE) has translated Act 1 into an evaluation system whereby 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is connected to “student learning”– the bottom line of which is student test score outcomes.

Act 1 began in 2012 as House Bill 974. The reason it is called Act 1 is that the 2012 Louisiana legislature rammed it though as the first act, with calculated speed, amid an atmosphere dripping with then-Governor Bobby Jindal’s business-and-industry-backed intention to bring “accountability” in the evaluating of the state’s teachers.

Once 2012 hit, Louisiana teachers began considering how and when to leave the profession. And each year beginning with 2012, Louisiana’s teacher workforce has experienced a noticeable exit of many experienced, seasoned teachers who otherwise would not have likely chosen to leave the profession so soon.

Thus, it comes as no surprise to me that a February 22, 2017, study by the Education Research Alliance (ERA) for New Orleans has found that based on teacher data from 2005 to 2012, Louisiana teachers did indeed begin leaving at a more notable rate, with those retirement-eligible comprising the greatest number of exiters.

Having 25+ years of employment, this group also happened to be the most experienced.

Moreover, it should come as no surprise that schools graded “F” lost the highest number of teachers in the post-Act-1 exit.

And the zinger, to quote from the study:

Though we cannot address the effects of this policy change on its main target, teacher quality, these effects on turnover rates are important in themselves. [Emphasis added.]

In short, the foolish assault on teachers and the asinine practice of trying to measure their worth in the lives of their students, schools, and communities via idolized test score gains has produced the critical side effect of crippling the teacher work force– with a built-in incentive for districts to hire cheaper, less experienced replacements– if they can continue to find them.

From the study discussion:

Our estimates suggest that the tenure reform is responsible for the exit of 1,500 to 1,700 teachers in the first two years after the removal of tenure protections, a loss of 3.0 to 3.5% of Louisiana’s teacher workforce. Future research is needed to estimate the long-term effects on teacher vacancies, the teaching profession, and the intended goal of school improvement through teacher quality.

These findings have a variety of fiscal and educational implications. The tenure reform created substantial churn in the Louisiana teacher workforce. Any sudden increase in teacher exit rates places a burden on school districts to fill vacancies with qualified replacements. Ideally, tenure reform would trigger the exit of less effective teachers, but that still leaves the challenge of replacement. States considering similar reforms should prepare to fill more vacant positions than usual in the initial years of implementation. Moreover, studies suggest that teacher turnover is detrimental to school culture and student performance. States should consider how reform-induced churn may impact schools and students, especially in low-performing schools where turnover effects are greatest.

States considering tenure reform should also consider the fiscal costs. Studies suggest that it costs between $4,000-18,000 to recruit, hire, and prepare a new teacher, depending on the context. Reform-induced exits may cause substantial short-term costs to hire replacement teachers. In addition, we find that teachers who can immediately access full pension payments are more likely to exit than teachers who cannot. While retirement decisions are driven largely by the financial incentives of the retirement system and broader economic forces such as the unemployment rate, it appears the tenure policy had an additional and separate effect. State pension systems must be able to absorb a sudden increase in retirements. However, at the school district level, increased retirements could reduce pressure on school budgets if replacement teachers are less experienced and, therefore, lower paid. …

Tenure clearly matters to teachers, and research clearly shows that teachers are important to students.

Though the researchers conclude that “tenure clearly matters to teachers,” a statement at the outset of the study makes it seem as though teachers who want to escape the misuse of student test scores as a threat to job security could somehow be placated by other means:

Our results support prior findings that teachers value the job security that tenure provides. In places where the supply of teachers is already limited, districts may need to provide higher teacher salaries or improve working conditions to make up for the diminished job security that accompanies tenure reform.

Louisiana is in a budget crisis, largely created by the choices of the same governor who pushed Act 1– Bobby Jindal. Higher teacher salaries are not a reality for many districts. Retaining teaching positions is more the order of the day. As for improved working conditions– in many cases, such improvements (e.g., smaller class sizes, adequate time for planning and collaboration, sufficient classroom materials and space) also require the funding to back them.

Still, for many teachers, the answer is simple:

Stop trying to grade us, our schools, and our districts using test scores. Such practices might be popular, but they are not nor never have been valid. I have yet to encounter a standardized testing company that advertises its student tests as appropriate for grading teachers and institutions. There’s a reason for that: The testing companies know full well that such faulty guarantees would make them liable for a practice that has never been anything other than doomed.

If Louisiana wants to curtail a serious teacher shortage in upcoming years, it must stop this twisted teacher grading scheme.

vacancy-chair

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Want to read more about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

What Betsy DeVos Says of Detractors Depends on the Day

Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos received an unprecedented amount of public resistance to her confirmation as US secretary of education.

Her take on public resistance to her utter disregard, painfully obvious ignorance, and established disdain for American public education changes with each situation– which she has already demonstrated in three US Department of Education press releases within a single week.

Consider an excerpt from her press release regarding the protesters who attempted to block her entrance into Jefferson Middle School in DC on February 10, 2017:

I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education. No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.

Sounds good. It is, after all, politically correct to “respect peaceful protest.” However, DeVos’ neutral tone changed on February 15, 2017, in a speech to the Magnet Schools of America:

Last Friday, a handful of protestors tried to block my entrance into Jefferson Middle School Academy here in D.C. While I eventually made it in, and had very constructive conversations with Chancellor Wilson, many DC administrative leaders, some terrific teachers and Principal Dohmann, the protestors’ behavior is a reflection of the way some seek to treat our education system – by keeping kids in and new thinking out.

Friday’s incident demonstrates just how hostile some people are to change and to new ideas. Without realizing it, we, too, can fall victim to this trap of seeing our work in education as an “us vs. them” approach.

Thus, five days later, DeVos’ “respect” for protest morphed into the judgment that such individuals are “hostile to change and to new ideas.” DeVos champions public money for private schools in the form of school vouchers. This is not new. However, the overriding “new” is for a a Congressional majority to put a billionaire whose political/spending history is undeniably hostile to public education in charge of overseeing a federal office that wields fiscal influence over public education across America.

Yet to DeVos, it is the “handful of protestors” who must be hostile because she views herself as above any reproach– an easy position to assume when one considers “I am right” to be a given.

But that was February 15, 2017.

By February 16, 2017, DeVos has bizarrely brushed aside her “hostile” comment as though it did not happen just 24 hour prior.

Consider this excerpt from her remarks to the Community College Legislative Summit on February 16, 2017:

My passion and actions have been to help improve educational opportunities for students and parents. And while some have characterized the flurry of attention around my confirmation in negative terms, I viewed it as expressions of passion… passionate parents and advocates who care deeply about their kids and about education.

I applaud it, and I know this same passion drives all of you.

Let’s just bring home DeVos’ dissonant opinions of those who reject her in one bizarre, contradiction distillation:

Betsy DeVos respects peaceful protest, and even though it comes from a handful of people who are just hostile to change and to new ideas, she actually applauds the flurry of negative attention because it shows passion that drives all involved– both protesters and protested.

Got that, America?

betsy-devos-17  Betsy DeVos 

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Want to read more about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

In Annual Newsletter, Gates Goes Silent on Education

Each year, the Gates Foundation issues an annual newsletter touting what it perceives as the gains made by its spending.

In 2015, the education focus of the newsletter was, “Better software will revolutionize learning.” The 2015 Gates ed celebration includes the following comment:

Our foundation gives more money to education than to any other cause in the United States because it’s the best lever we’ve seen for giving every child in America a chance to make the most of their lives.

Gates acknowledges that it gives more money to education than to any other US cause. Therefore, it is strange that there is no mention of the Common Core, which Gates has spent hundreds of millions to fund (see here, as well).

Gates also does not mention that it can pull its financial support if and when it likes, which is what happened in 2015 to Hillsborough County Schools’ “Empowering Effective Teachers” grant from Gates. Hillsborough was left holding the bag to the tune of 20 million “late in the process.”

Thus, teacher evaluation was another Gates-funded flop (see here for cautions about its test-score center), as was its “small schools” effort– more than $2 billion according to Gates in 2009– as the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss notes in 2014. Chopping larger schools into smaller ones mostly didn’t work, and what Gates glosses over is how chaotic it can be to the school system to alter itself on a billionaire’s whim and then be shrugged off by the billionaire. (More about Gates’ small schools bail in this post.)

Note that Gates offered no funding to systems to reinstate the system it had in place prior to participating in Gates’ failed “small schools” push.

Gates offers no insurance, and by 2015, “small schools” is a term surely not mentioned in its annual proclamation of the educational wonder that is the Gates educational funding hobby.

What is also notable is that in its 2016 newsletter, “Two Superpowers We Wish We Had,” Gates doesn’t mention its biggest domestic spend– US education– at all.

Moreover, the Gates 2017 annual newsletter, entitled, “Dear Warren: Warren Buffet’s Best Investment” also makes zero mention of Gates’ greatest US-funded area: education.

In 2013, in a Harvard interview, Gates casually observed, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but we won’t know for probably a decade.”

Our education stuff.

Gates paid his first money into Common Core in 2008— a feat that Washington Post reported Lyndsey Layton termed “the swift Common Core revolution.” It’s 2017. Ten years since that *initial investment,* and no comment– not a word– in 2017– on that or any other Gates education *stuff.*

There is a convenience in being a billionaire funder. No matter what he pays for– no matter whose lives are altered or how– the billionaire answers to no one.

His life continues, unaffected and untouched.

He need not even address his biggest area of US spending in his newsletter.

bill gates shrug  Bill Gates

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Want to read more about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

DeVos: DC Protesters “Hostile to Change”; “Keeping Kids In and New Thinking Out”

On February 15, 2017, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke at the 2017 National Policy Training Conference of the Magnet Schools of America.

It was her first public speech as secretary of education. She chose to use the occasion to portray protests against her as closed-mindedness and nothing more than “hostility to change.”

Below are her remarks in full, as posted among the US Department of Education press releases:

Good Afternoon:

Thank you for that kind introduction Todd, and thank you for inviting me to be here with you.

I want to begin by expressing my appreciation for all you do. I would like to share some thoughts on how I hope to support your important work, but first, let me just comment on something you may have seen on TV.

Last Friday, a handful of protestors tried to block my entrance into Jefferson Middle School Academy here in D.C. While I eventually made it in, and had very constructive conversations with Chancellor Wilson, many DC administrative leaders, some terrific teachers and Principal Dohmann, the protestors’ behavior is a reflection of the way some seek to treat our education system – by keeping kids in and new thinking out.

Friday’s incident demonstrates just how hostile some people are to change and to new ideas. Without realizing it, we, too, can fall victim to this trap of seeing our work in education as an “us vs. them” approach.

I know this to be true throughout the reform community, where there are those who claim to be champions of education, but they really only support their respective “sectors.” These silos are unnecessary and unproductive in our common goal to serve all students. So I applaud your work to expand and improve options for all children through magnet schools.

The education of a child is not a zero-sum game. When a student excels academically, we do not place an asterisk next to his or her name based on the type of school he or she attends.

I want to encourage you today to look beyond the walls of your schools, beyond the invisible lines of your community, and let’s renew our commitment to doing what’s best for each and every child.

A quick question:
By a show of hands, who here got involved in education to make money? (If you did, I’m not judging you) … I don’t see any hands up.

Who here got involved because you don’t trust teachers? Again, no hands.

Okay, last one. Who here today got involved in education because you care deeply about students and their needs?

Now all of you have raised your hand.

Our care for students and their futures is what brings us together. This is the common element that makes our mission so noble: Our collective goal is to provide all students with an equal opportunity for a high-quality education.

I don’t need to recite the history of magnet schools and the vital role they’ve played to improve the lives of urban students, combat segregation, and provide a quality option to parents and kids alike. Indeed, magnet schools are often referred to as the original school choice option.

I’ve seen the evidence firsthand. In my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, City High Middle School is nationally recognized and is ranked the third-best school in the state. Forty-five percent are minority students, and 98 percent of all students are enrolled in IB programs.

In conversations with parents and students who are part of City High, it’s clear how much they appreciate and value the opportunity that school provides.

After 40 years since the inception of magnet schools, I think it’s important to celebrate their important role and also to remind ourselves that there’s so much more work to be done.

That is why I am honored to join you today. Your presence demonstrates your commitment to creating quality options, to embracing innovation, and to seeking new ways to better serve some of our most underserved students.

Let’s also celebrate the fact that more than 2.6 million students benefit from attending 3,285 magnet schools. These schools are offering parents tremendous options, and they offer students an important opportunity they wouldn’t have had elsewhere. I applaud your commitment to developing and communicating best practices to ensure all magnet schools strive to be models of excellence.

I’m proud to highlight the Department’s Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP), and note that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) offers new flexibilities that will hopefully lead to greater program success.

First, ESSA extends the grant term from three years to up to five years, and increases the maximum cumulative grant award from $12 million to $15 million. Grantees will now have more time and funding to implement their themes, diversify their schools and improve academic outcomes.

Second, ESSA allows grant funds to be spent on transportation for your school’s students, thereby improving access to new, thriving magnet schools for all students. And third, ESSA allows your schools to measure diversity by both socioeconomic background as well as race.

But the reality is: What makes your schools transformative places of learning is not a federal grant; it’s not the brick and mortar, it’s you, the human connection. You and your teachers are the difference-makers and the life-changers.

The relationships you forge with your students give them a platform from which to launch.

As the Secretary of Education, I am committed to supporting your success, celebrating your commitment to quality, and working with you to ensure that magnet schools continue to play a vital role in bettering student achievements.

Please know, I am the type of person who listens more than she speaks, so know that my door is open to you, to hear your concerns, and to help you build on your achievements.

Thank you again for everything you do for America’s children. I appreciate you, and I know the parents and students you serve do as well.

I wish you a very successful conference and visit to our nation’s capital. Thanks very much.

DeVos refuses to acknowledge any downside to her cemented agenda of school choice. No negative evidence permeates her position.

She tells others that she listens more than she speaks. That’s not how it works, Betsy. Genuine listeners do not need to publicly promote themselves as listeners.

Betsy DeVos wants the public to buy into the fabrication that she is a listener.

But this was a safe audience: magnet school teachers and admin.

I look forward to how well her first speech to an audience of regular public school teachers will be received.

betsy-devos-16  Betsy DeVos speaks to the Magnet Schools of America

____________________________________________________________

Want to read more about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Betsy DeVos’ Press Release About Her DC School Visit

On Friday, February 10, 2017, US Ed Sec Betsy DeVos was in the news because protesters blocked one of the entrances to DC’s Jefferson Middle School, which DeVos had chosen to visit that day.

The situation quickly made the national news. (See here and here and here, for instance.)

What did not so obviously make the news was DeVos’ press release regarding the incident. Below is the full text of that release.

Pay attention to DeVos’ final sentence.

Statement from U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Visiting Jefferson Middle School Academy in Washington, D.C.

FEBRUARY 10, 2017
Contact:   Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos traveled to Jefferson Middle School Academy today and met with D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, Jefferson Academy Principal Greg Dohmann, Superintendent Natalie Gordon, Chief of Schools John Davis, and other school leaders and administrators, including Jefferson Academy teachers and students.

The following is a statement from Secretary DeVos:

“I thank D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, Jefferson Middle School Academy Principal Greg Dohmann, Superintendent Natalie Gordon and a tremendous team of administrators, teachers and students for welcoming me to Jefferson Middle School Academy today. Jefferson Academy is a public middle school on the rise and a great example of the successful collaborative innovations occurring within the D.C. Public Schools system.

“Focusing on their students and families is at the heart of Jefferson Academy’s approach, and that’s exactly what I believe is at the heart of providing an exceptional education. Great teachers and leaders help make great schools, and I was honored to speak with Jefferson’s team about our shared commitment to strengthening public education.

“I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education. No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.”

DeVos ends her press release with, “No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.”

Let us consider what DeVos says here– and what she omits.

First of all, DeVos omits the word “public” in describing the “schools.” Private schools set their own rules. DeVos favors sending public money to private schools, and she has not committed to equal accountability for all schools receiving federal money, whether traditional public, charter, or private. So, it seems that it could have been a bit awkward for DeVos to offer a statement about “no public school door being blocked.”

Next, DeVos’ final statement is unrealistic. Just because a person purports to be a helper of the nation’s school children does not mean that person should gain automatic and unquestioned entrance. Safety issues come into play, for example.

Third, DeVos obviously considers herself to be among those “seeking to help our nation’s school children.” However, that does not mean she really is a help, and it does not mean that the public will now just discard DeVos’ history of aggressively favoring school choice and virtually ignoring (and working to dismantle) the neighborhood public school.

Finally, the statement about “seeking to help” is a vague one, vague enough to encompass the private-school-voucher dog whistle that DeVos clearly favors.

This leaves me wondering what DeVos considers to be “the vital mission of the Department of Education.” What I hear in these words is yet another voucher-favoring dog whistle.

I agree with DeVos’ words about “peaceful protest.” Protests should be peaceful. However, I wonder how long it will be until DeVos tries to initiate a conversation with those who are protesting.

She has the upper hand here.

Her USDOE door can remain blocked to those who support public schools and who are concerned about her leadership for as long as DeVos so chooses.

betsy-devos-15  Betsy DeVos

___________________________________________________________

Want to read more about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

US Ed Sec Betsy DeVos’ Letter to State Superintendents Re: ESSA State Plans

On Friday, February 10, 2017, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sent to state superintendents a letter regarding the formulation of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans.

In short, she notes that the ESSA guidance composed under the direction of former US Ed Sec John King could be scrapped by Congress but that states should continue drafting plans knowing that any revised ESSA guide will include fewer requirements, not more.

In her February 10, 2017, letter, DeVos also offers what appears to be an olive leaf to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) by specifically mentioning education of homeless youth, a major concern of Murray’s. (Prior to DeVos’ confirmation, Murray asked DeVos numerous questions in writing about the care of homeless youth; Murray also voted against DeVos’ confirmation.)

Below is the full text of DeVos’ letter, which can be found her among the US Department of Education (USDOE) press releases:

February 10, 2017

Dear Chief State School Officer:

Thank you for the important work you and stakeholders in your State are engaged in to develop new State plans and transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). I am writing today to assure you that I fully intend to implement and enforce the statutory requirements of the ESSA. Additionally, I want to provide you with an update on the timeline, procedures, and criteria under which a State Educational Agency (SEA) may submit a State plan, including a consolidated State plan, to the Department. States should continue to follow the timeline for developing and submitting their State plans to the Department for review and approval.

On November 29, 2016, the Department issued final regulations regarding statewide accountability systems and data reporting under Title I of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, and the preparation of State plans, including consolidated State plans. However, in accordance with the memorandum of January 20, 2017, from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, titled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review,” published in the Federal Register on January 24, 2017, the Department has delayed the effective date of regulations concerning accountability and State plans under the ESSA until March 21, 2017, to permit further review for questions of law and policy that the regulations might raise. Additionally, Congress is currently considering a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) (5 U.S.C. §§ 801- 808) to overturn these regulations. If a resolution of disapproval is enacted, these regulations “shall have no force or effect.”

In a Dear Colleague Letter dated November 29, 2016, the Department notified SEAs that it would accept consolidated State plans on two dates: April 3 or September 18, 2017. The Department also released a Consolidated State Plan Template that States were required to use if they submit a consolidated State plan. Due to the regulatory delay and review, and the potential repeal of recent regulations by Congress, the Department is currently reviewing the regulatory requirements of consolidated State plans, as reflected in the current template, to ensure that they require only descriptions, information, assurances, and other materials that are “absolutely necessary” for consideration of a consolidated State plan, consistent with section 8302(b)(3) of the ESEA. In doing so, the Department, in consultation with SEAs as well as other State and local stakeholders, will develop a revised template for consolidated State plans that meets the “absolutely necessary” requirement by March 13, 2017. The Department may also consider allowing a State or group of States to work together to develop a consolidated State plan template that meets the Department’s identified requirements through the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The regulatory delay and review, and the potential repeal of recent regulations by Congress, should not adversely affect or delay the progress that States have already made in developing their State plans and transitioning to the ESSA. The Department will be notifying States and the public of the revised template once it becomes available. In the meantime, States should continue their work in engaging with stakeholders and developing their plans based on the requirements under section 8302(b)(3) of the ESEA. In doing so, States may consider using the existing template as a guide, as any revised template will not result in descriptions, information, assurances, or other materials that States will be required to provide other than those already required under the ESEA. The Department will still accept consolidated State plans on April 3 or September 18, 2017.

For your reference, the following programs may be included in a consolidated State plan:

  • Title I, part A: Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies;
  • Title I, part C: Education of Migratory Children;
  • Title I, part D: Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk;
  • Title II, part A: Supporting Effective Instruction;
  • Title III, part A: English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act;
  • Title IV, part A: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants;
  • Title IV, part B: 21st Century Community Learning Centers; and
  • Title V, part B, subpart 2: Rural and Low-Income School Program.

In addition, pursuant to ESEA section 8302(a)(1)(B), I am designating the Education for Homeless Children and Youths program under subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act as a program that may be included in an SEA’s consolidated State plan.

I appreciate the hard work and thoughtful attention you are giving to implementing the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA. I understand that a great deal of work has already gone into the planning and preparation of your State plans, whether that is a consolidated State plan or individual program plans. One of my main priorities as Secretary is to ensure that States and local school districts have clarity during the early implementation of the law. Additionally, I want to ensure that regulations comply with the requirements of the law, provide the State and local flexibility that Congress intended, and do not impose unnecessary burdens. In the near future, the Department will provide more information on its review of existing regulations, as well as additional guidance and technical assistance.

We have a unique opportunity as we implement the ESSA. I look forward to working with you, districts, and parents to ensure every child has the opportunity to pursue excellence and achieve their hopes and dreams.

Sincerely,

Betsy DeVos

When President Donald Trump first mentioned his $20 billion plan to expand school choice a la portability of funding, he included no indication of the exact origin of such funding. Some have speculated that both ESSA Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) would have to be defunded in the process.

Still, Trump could not divert the money without Congressional approval. And so far, given her letter included above, there is no indication from DeVos that any Congressional efforts at ESSA Title I defunding is in the works….

I take that back: See HR 610: Choices in Education Act of 2017:

Choices in Education Act of 2017

This bill repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limits the authority of the Department of Education (ED) such that ED is authorized only to award block grants to qualified states.

The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds among local educational agencies (LEAs) based on the number of eligible children within each LEA’s geographical area. From these amounts, each LEA shall: (1) distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child, and (2) do so in a manner that ensures that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.

To be eligible to receive a block grant, a state must: (1) comply with education voucher program requirements, and (2) make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect to enroll their child in any public or private elementary or secondary school in the state or to home-school their child.

HR 610 would also allow states to feed kids less healthy food:

No Hungry Kids Act

The bill repeals a specified rule that established certain nutrition standards for the national school lunch and breakfast programs. (In general, the rule requires schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in school meals; and meet children’s nutritional needs within their caloric requirements.)

HR 610 is an extreme bill. Whether it gets out of the House Committee of Education and the Workforce remains to be seen.

More likely, Trump and DeVos will issue a joint press release about a much more scaled-down version of a *competition* to entice states in the direction of portability of funding– a *Vouchers to the Top*, of sorts.

Keep your eyes on those USDOE press releases.

betsy-devos-huffpost-3  Betsy DeVos

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Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

DeVos Public School Visits: A Brief Guide

If US Ed Sec Betsy DeVos is truly interested in the goings-on at public schools, she should first contact the school and arrange a visit. DeVos should not spring a “pop-in” on stakeholders.

Admin should not surprise their faculty and students with a DeVos pop-in. Furthermore, stakeholders should not find out about an upcoming DeVos visit via leaked info.

DeVos should be certain that parents are notified and included in the visit.

The visit should occur at a time that teachers are able to interact with her. DeVos told the US Dept of Ed employees that she is a listener. Therefore, let her listen.

Stakeholders should be candid with DeVos but not ugly. Adults should model respectful disagreement for the students who are watching and listening.

If parents and teachers decide to include students in the visit, then students should be included if they wish. However, DeVos has been major news, and some students might not trust her because they have heard that she does not care for public schools.

Schools should have the right to say no to a DeVos visit. That way, the “yes” will be genuine.

DeVos and her people should take no pictures. Let the stakeholders take the photos, if they choose.

Finally, DeVos should not make these visits if she cannot honestly assure stakeholders (parents, students, teachers) that she intends to invest in public schools. If her goal is to dismantle America’s public schools via voucher-glutting, fiscal erosion, then any attempt at assurance of DeVos investment in public schools will come across for what it is– a lie– and building trust with stakeholders will be impossible.

It all comes down to whether DeVos wants a relationship with public school stakeholders or just a photo op.

The preponderance of DeVos evidence to date points to a photo op motive.

DeVos needs to decidedly own as much if she truly wants a relationship with the nation’s public schools.

betsy-devos-10  Betsy DeVos

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Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

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