A Thought-provoking Comment on ESEA Reauthorization
Both House and Senate are trying to pass bills for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 (also known by its last reauthorization, No Child Left Behind, NCLB).
Both are centered on the NCLB-instituted annual testing, chiefly in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school in English language arts (ELA) and math. The House version promotes portability of Title I funding (i.e., money follows the student). The Senate version is the stronger of the two to limit the power of the US secretary of education. Both include language to prohibit federal promotion of Common Core, and both are generous to charter schools.
And both can still be amended. (The House version was undergoing more amendments on July 07, 2015, and will likely face a vote on the House floor around either 1:30 p.m. EST or 4:30 p.m. EST on July 08, 2015. The Senate draft was being debated on the Senate floor on July 07, 2015.)
The question is which bill will become the next ESEA version, and whether such will happen under the Obama administration or delayed until the next administration is in the White House. Of course, there is also the possibility that neither will become the ESEA reauthorization– and America will be left with the junked car, NCLB. Not sure what then. Sell NCLB off for parts?
At any rate, I read the comment below on Diane Ravitch’s blog, to a post written by Leonie Haimson. The comment is written by Ohio arts educator Laura Chapman. I thought it worth sharing:
According to Whiteboard Advisors, 74% of Washington Insiders think that ESEA will not be reauthorized until after December 2015; about 20% think it will never be reauthorized.
These “insiders” are not disclosed by name, only by a general description. They include past and present Congressional staff, former officials at USDE, and other “senior” officials. I think that a lot of the “senior officials” are with Achieve, the National Governor’s Association, and Council of Chief State School Officers. Many from these three groups have a vested interest in seeing the Common Core and PARCC and SBAC tests retained, but they also understand that these initiatives are also tainted by the overreach of Obama and especially Arne Duncan’s explicit and implicit endorsements of that agenda.
In any case, the cast of characters that Whiteboard tapped in this survey seem to think any current movement on ESEA will stall out and receive final attention, if at all, as a legacy matter for the next administration.
I think a delay will allow the proponents of charters, choice, vouchers, “scholarships,” so-called personalized learning (and the rest) to get fully joined at the hip with those who wish to wrap the ESEA Reauthorization into a neo-civil rights/14th Amendment issue. If they have not already done so, they will gain time to get all of their cash cows pouring money into a final bill that will resemble the House version more than the Senate version.
In any case it is a huge disappointment to see that Elizabeth Warren and her staff think that the testing regime is needed, as if those scores are the only or best path to address inequities in education.
I think that the Senate Bill is minor rework of the current policies, with a wide open door for more charter fraud, intrusive marketing of technology and the big business of data mining, some churning of the state testing environments with no let up on the distortions of student achievement and the purposes of education that these create. Because RTT and NCLB waivers by Duncan targeted state laws, there will be a very long tail on the worst of those policies. In Ohio, for example, the legislature requires teacher evaluations with VAM and SLOs. No oversight of charters would also be permitted.
I conclude that there is not yet any coherent and credible way for the deep flaws in what Diane has aptly called The Reign of Error to gain a huge following, big enough and loud enough to cut through the messaging campaigns of the billionaires and ultra conservatives who disdain public education and all governance structures of, for, and by the people.
Following what Laura wrote, this reauthorization reminds me of a person trying to exercise free movement while wearing several wool coats.
I’ll just leave it at that for now.