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Education News Roundup

News and Commentary for Tuesday, April 23, 2013

House GOP lawmakers want more information on NCLB waivers
Blog by Alyson Klein/Education Week
So far, 34 states and the District of Columbia have been approved for flexibility from provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, with only a smattering of formal oversight from Congress (mostly in the form of this bipartisan hearing in the Senate education committee and this letter from House Democrats). Now Republicans on the House Education and the Workforce Committee—who haven't yet held a waiver hearing—have some questions about waiver implementation, many of which pinpoint the political and policy challenges inherent in the waivers. And they've sent U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, plus state chiefs who were approved for the flexibility, letters asking a list of questions, including: •The number of meetings and communications that were necessary before each waiver request was approved. •Why certain waiver request were denied •The biggest challenges in waiver implementation (I'm betting teacher evaluation may come up here.) •How a state could lose its waiver and how it would revert back to the current system. (more)
 
Brown wants to tie some funding of universities to new proposals
by Chris Megerian and Larry Gordon/Los Angeles Times
Gov. Jerry Brown wants to tie some state funding for California's public universities to a host of new requirements, including 10% increases in the number of transfer students from community colleges and the percentage of freshmen graduating within four years. Brown, who has repeatedly said the universities should be leaner and serve more students, is asking for equivalent increases in several other areas as well, according to a copy of his plan obtained by The Times. Those include raising the overall number of graduates and a stipulation that more students coming from community colleges finish their studies within two years. The document, which updates Brown's January budget proposal for overhauling higher education, also reiterates his demand for a four-year freeze on tuition and fees for undergraduate and graduate students. If either university system hiked costs, it would forfeit $511 million in state funding — a roughly 20% increase — over the life of Brown's plan. The governor will release his revised spending blueprint next month. His conditions, if the Legislature approves them, could reshape the relationship between Sacramento and higher education institutions. By meeting Brown's goals over the next four years, the University of California and California State University systems could see their funding approach levels not reached since before the recession. But the institutions have prided themselves on their relative independence from state government, and Brown's proposal has been greeted coldly by university officials unaccustomed to taking orders from politicians. (more)
 
Parent trigger: Who's for it and who's against it tells the story
Blog by Valerie Strauss/Washington Post
You can learn pretty much everything you need to know about the controversial  “parent trigger” legislation now before the Florida Legislature by looking at who is for it and who is against it. Parent trigger legislation is intended to give parents with children at low-performing schools the legal right to petition the state or district for a change in school structure, with the parents getting to pick from a list of options. Those options include turning the school over to a private management company. Proponents say it gives parents more options and power in their children’s education. Opponents say it is a stealth way of turning traditional public schools into charter schools and that it will lead to more privately run schools and contentious battles in school communities (such as the one that ripped up the California town of Adelanto). The Florida Senate’s Democratic leader, Nan Rich of Weston, who is running for governor in 2014, said at a recent press conference that  the bill is really about “laying the groundwork for the hostile, corporate takeover of public schools throughout Florida” and is “a direct attack on public education.” The Florida legislation, which failed last year, has already passed in the state House and will be taken up by the Senate by the end of the month. In an effort to make it more appealing to opponents, an amendment  changed the language in the Senate version to allow the local school board to make the final decision after parents petition for a change in school leadership. (more)
 
State officials to decide penalty for Burbank school breach of test security
by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC
Burbank Unified may be punished by the state after a teacher allegedly helped students answer questions on a high stakes test. The incident took place last week in a third grade classroom, officials said. "Some people thought that the teachers gave answers or there was cheating,” said Burbank Unified superintendent Jan Britz. “It wasn't cheating; it wasn't giving answers," she said. "But there's a variety of things that you can do for test security and the students identified that and the investigation actually confirmed that." Britz agreed that breach is a black eye for the district. Two people investigated the incident last week at McKinley Elementary School after students reported it. The school district handed over the results of the investigation to California’s Department of Education. Britz said state officials agreed with the district's conclusion that the integrity of one of the state standardized tests was breached. (more)
 
Are student loans destroying the economy?
by Derek Thompson/The Atlantic
Recoveries are powered by two things. Houses and cars. And young people aren't buying either. That's the conclusion from a new study out of the New York Fed, via Brad Plumer, that can be easily read as blaming student debt for holding back the recovery by squashing home and auto sales. The share of 30-year-olds with student debt who have taken out a mortgage has collapsed since the recession struck (ditto those without student debt). And the share of 25-year-olds with student debt who also have an auto loan has fallen since the crash, as well (ditto again those without student debt). This study seems to feed into a familiarly scary story about student debt as a dangerous bubble that is piling unprecedented levels of debt on young people, and is wrecking the economy by preventing them from starting their lives. There's two problems with that story. First, as Jordan Weissmann and I wrote for The Atlantic, there are so many reasons that cars and houses are falling out of favor with young people beyond student loans (and even beyond the miserable economy) that it's impossible to pick a single culprit. For example, companies like Ford are vocally worried that smartphones are replacing cars as symbols of grown-up sociability, and young people are bunching in urban and urban-lite areas with many apartments and good public transit. Second, it's a myth that college graduates have more debt than they used to. In fact, they have less. Total debt for 20-somethings has fallen since its peak in 2008, as it has for every age group in this period of deleveraging. Families that feasted on credit in the last decade have spent the last few years paying back what they owe and cutting back their excessive spending. Young people, with and without student loans, have done the very same. (more)
 

The California Education News Roundup is produced by the Just Schools California project at UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA). For the latest research, background and an array of resources on educational justice issues, visit www.ucla-idea.orgIf you wish to contact us, please e-mail bustamante@gseis.ucla.edu

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