Archive for November, 2017

Revisiting Predictions on President Trump’s Impact on Public Education II: ESSA

November 30, 2017 Comments off

A year ago I wrote several posts on Donald Trump’s appointments and where I saw them leading us. For the next five days I am going to revisit those predictions to see how they panned out. Today I take a look at how ESSA is playing out as compared to predictions I offered in 2016.

Here’s the latest information on ESSA, from a Politico post last week:

ALEXANDER LOOMS LARGE OVER K-12 EDUCATION: Sen. Lamar Alexander made a phone call this summer that quickly changed how Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was enforcing the law governing how public schools are held accountable for educating kids. The Tennessee Republican had publicly and privately admonished a top aide to DeVos, instructing the aide that the law requires the federal government to keep its hands largely off state education policy. When Alexander’s complaints fell on deaf ears, he called DeVos directly. “She thanked me for it,” Alexander, the chairman of the Senate education committee, told POLITICO. Caitlin Emma has the story.

Soon after the call, the Education Department said it was changing how it reviews state education plans developed under the law, possibly shielding the biggest federal concerns from public view by first conveying them in telephone calls with state officials rather than on paper. The review and questioning of states became less intense throughout the summer. Speculation swirled that the Trump appointee whom Alexander blasted, Jason Botel, was leaving the agency or switching jobs. Botel’s public critiques of state education plans, once lengthy and probing, now mostly ask for missing information or clarifications.

Alexander’s intervention at the Education Department shows how he uses his clout to steer DeVos’ agency and shape policy on a defining piece of his legacy – a major bipartisan rewrite of federal education law called the Every Student Succeeds Act. He said he feels like his intervention helped the department “from going off track.” A senior GOP aide said the agency “stopped giving bad advice to states” and stopped questioning matters that belong to state school officials, like setting goals for students and education systems….

Alexander after Trump’s election also worked to find an Education secretary who would uphold his state-centric, hands-off vision for the Every Student Succeeds Act. And he led the congressional effort to scrap an Obama rule for holding schools accountable under the law. But some worry that Alexander’s actions could translate into little to no federal oversight of state education. Critics note the law imposed certain requirements to protect poor and minority students, whose performance often lags behind their peers. They worry whether states will adequately track and provide equal opportunities for at-risk kids or face consequences from the Education Department if they fail to do so.

This confirms some of the fears I expressed when I examined the possible direction ESSA might head under a Trump presidency. From the outset Mr. Trump signaled his intention to provide states with more latitude in funding schools and that combined with his pledge to “…significantly curb the role of the department’s office for civil rights when it comes to state and local policies” is resulting in a diminished focus on equity, desegregation, and a continued emphasis on test-based accountability and “choice” that includes the opportunity for parents to use taxpayers funds to attend parochial schools. ESSA is becoming the worst of both worlds: it incorporates the standardized testing of NCLB with a trend towards “states rights” that will allow for vouchers that can be used for any schooling whatsoever.

Education Week

November 29, 2017 Comments off

This link leads to an article that describes the daunting task parents face when they are confronted with a bevy of choices for their child’s school… and like the bevy of choices they face at the grocery store there is no guarantee that everyone has the same number of “products” to choose from.

Categories: Uncategorized

Revisiting Predictions on President Trump’s Impact on Public Education I: Betsy DeVos

November 29, 2017 Comments off

A year ago I wrote several posts on where I thought Donald Trump’s presidency might lead public education. For the next five days I am going to revisit those predictions to see how they panned out. Today I begin with a look at how the appointment of Betsy DeVos is playing out as compared to predictions I offered in 2016.

On November 23, 2016, I opened my blog post on Betsy DeVos’ nomination as Secretary of Education with this:

Just when you thought the future of public education couldn’t be dimmer, President elect Trump turned out the lights with his nomination of billionaire charter proponent Betsy DeVos as his Department of Education head.

The blog post recounted Ms. DeVos complete absence of experience in public education, her advocacy for deregulated for profit charter schools, her desire to offer opportunities for parents to use taxpayers funds for sectarian schools, and her complete contempt for public schools— or “government” schools as she called them. I later wrote an op ed piece that our local newspaper published and have added a “DeVos” tag because I found myself writing repeatedly about her actions as Secretary of Education.

Nothing in the past year has changed by perspective on Ms, DeVos’ intentions. She is clearly opposed to democratically elected school boards and in favor of complete privatization. She is an unabashed proponent of vouchers— vouchers that parents could use to attend any school they wish including sectarian schools. And with 35 state houses controlled by the GOP and a solid majority of legislatures under GOP control we are witnessing a surge in voucher bills unparalleled in history.  And given the trends and legislative actions at the federal and state levels, I also stand by the concluding paragraphs of the post I wrote just over a year ago, which read:

Any hope of any reforms that might lead to more funding for public education went out the window on November 8, and any hope of any relief from the privatization that plagues public education was lost well before that when the race boiled down to Mr. Trump against Ms. Clinton, who was fully on board with the direction “reformers” were taking public education during the Bush and, yes, the Obama administrations.

Here’s the saddest part of this story: digging out of this huge hole dug for public education over two decades will require a heroic effort. I hope a 2020 presidential candidate emerges in the near future to help lead the way.

And even sadder: to date no 2020 candidate has emerged thus far….