A little known fact about me, in addition to being “A mom with passion, not an agenda,” I am also a working mom, as I am an adjunct college professor teaching Public Policy Administration. In my March 19, 2012 blog, I wrote about “No Child Left Behind” and it’s affects on education. I’d like to provide an update and excerpt from one of my lectures about NCLB. Additionally, in my latest blog entry I discussed the Family Engagement in Education Act. (Have you contacted your representatives yet?) So, does NCLB address all the concerns of education, of the child, of the educator, of the parent? If education is a hot button item for the election, why does it not appear to be a priority and first on the list for budget cuts?
Where are we now with NCLB? In April 2012, I attended the Mom Congress Conference on Education and Learning. One of the esteemed speakers was Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. He provided an eloquent speech about the state of education in our country and what is on the horizon to fix the growing problem within our country. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to ask Secretary Duncan a question, that being, how is the aftermath of No Child Left Behind going to be addressed and what about the other bills that lay stagnate in committee (Family Engagement in Education Act, Talent Act, etc.), what are their fates? His answer was simply, we have to wait until after the election because legislators will not touch NCLB until a president is elected. However, he admitted that NCLB has failed schools, children, parents and teachers. As a way to alleviate the burden of the stringent test requirements of NCLB on states and schools, the Department of Education is granting waivers to states, after an application process? A solution or maybe just a band-aid?
Currently, more than half of the states have been granted a waiver from NCLB.
The 26 states that have now received permission to work around No Child Left Behind include Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. In addition, six states that did not complete the entire waiver process — and one whose application was rejected — got a one-year freeze on the rising targets for standardized test scores: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine and West Virginia. The applications of 10 states and Washington, D.C., are still being reviewed. (Resmovits, 2012, para. 10)
What does the waiver mean to states and the education process?
State will be released from some of the more strenuous requirements and punishments, focusing on the merits of the law such as tutoring programs. In addition to test scores, NCLB also based school performance on how a differentiated group of students performed, this was based on race, poverty and English as a second language. Although a school may have had a solid average score, the school would fail if all children did not pass. Additionally, schools were punished for failing. “The consequences of those categories meant that schools that failed to make yearly progress under the law had to pay outside companies for reading and math tutoring for students,” (Bock, 2012, para. 8). The waivers will aid school districts and government entities in identifying schools that are consistently low-achieving. Additionally, schools will no longer be punished for failing and school districts will be given more latitude on how to utilize funds to improve their schools.
In return, states will consent to requirements in President Obama’s education agenda; “which includes a “college- and career-ready” standards and grading teachers, in part, in accordance with students’ standardized test scores. And instead of subjecting all schools to potential punishments, only 15 percent of each state’s lowest-performing schools would be affected,” (Resmovits, 2012, para. 4). Hopefully, these waivers will help schools rebuild and refocus education practices.
In my state of Missouri, schools will no longer be held to the “adequate yearly progress.” Schools will be held accountable through a state-developed accountability system. “As part of the waiver, Missouri agreed, for the first time, to evaluate teachers partly on the performance of their students and give priority to the state’s worst schools,” (Bock, 2012, para. 3).
So what is the parent’s role in all of this? This is where the Family Engagement in Education Act (FEE) comes into play and it becomes a vital component to success in education. The Family Engagement in Education Act (H.R.1821/S.941) incentivizes schools and districts to meaningfully engage families to close the achievement gap. This bill was introduced on May 10, 2011 in the House of Representatives by Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), and in the Senate by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE). Research demonstrates that family engagement in a child’s education increases student achievement, improves attendance, and reduces the dropout rate. In my discussions with Missouri PTA, the overall goal is to pass this act now so when reauthorization of NCLB gets underway high impact effective family engagement will be part of the final vote. Missouri PTA is looking at developing very specific family engagement ideals including high impact models used by schools. These would be things such as home visits, positive home calls from the teacher, specific strategies given to parents to help their child at home, etc. Many parents feel outside of the education process. Studies show that family involvement raises student achievement. The passing of this bill will afford teachers, administrators and school districts the means to reach out and make parents part of the education process resulting in what is a common goal, the success of the student.
As a parent, I have one opportunity to essentially get it right for my children and education plays a major role in their development into productive and contributive citizens. My involvement as a parent is imperative not only to my children’s education, but serves as a connection between myself and my children’s teachers, school staff and administration. As parents, we must exercise our rights and realize that we are advocates for our children and their education. Communication today is as simple as an email or a note in a backpack.
So, have you contacted your representatives about education in your community or our country as a whole?
And here is my quote: “Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” ~William Butler Yeats
Bock, J. (June 30, 2012). Missouri gets waiver from No Child Left Behind. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved from: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/mo-gets-waiver-from-no-child-left-behind/article_3f6904cf-4955-55da-aca6-1f64b6db2bb0.html#ixzz1zsQGZPOZ
Resmovits, J. (July 6, 2012). No Child Left Behind Waivers Granted To More Than Half Of U.S. States. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/no-child-left-behind-waivers_n_1652574.html