Congress Keeps Eyes on ESSA
Congress is keeping a watchful eye as states move to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), moving forward with hearings on both sides of the Hill. Today, the Senate education committee held a hearing titled ESSA Implementation in States and School Districts: Perspectives from Education Leaders. During the lively hearing, some witnesses praised the transfer of authority to states and districts, while others raised concerns about these entities' track records in serving disadvantaged students. Ultimately, however, senators looked to witnesses for specifics about how states and locales can leverage the flexibility of the new law to lift the achievement of all students.
The House education committee is also in on the ESSA action. First, a hearing on Wednesday, which will essentially be an FY17 budget hearing, will examine how President Obama’s proposed budget addresses education funding under ESSA. On Thursday, however, the committee will dive more deeply into ESSA during the Next Steps for K–12 Education: Upholding the Letter and Intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act hearing. Acting Secretary of Education John B. King will testify at both events.
King will also make an appearance on the Senate side, as the Senate education committee will meet to consider his nomination as secretary on Thursday, February 25 at 2:00 p.m. eastern time. As Capitol Connection previously reported, King was initially set to serve only as acting secretary during the final year of Obama’s presidency, but the president is now moving forward with an official nomination, in part due to the support of Senate education committee chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
In whole child news, states that want to enhance student achievement through the prevention of bullying in schools should consider adopting at least one legislative aspect of the U.S Department of Education's antibullying framework—states that have done so report lower bullying rates than those that have not. According to the latest research, three components of the framework were associated with lower levels of bullying; these components include laws that clearly describe prohibited bullying behavior, define schools’ powers to restrict bullying, and require districts to develop and implement local antibullying policies. Read more on the administration’s efforts to reduce bullying here, and you can see reported levels of bullying and cyberbullying in your state by checking out its Whole Child Snapshot.
Students who eat breakfast are better able to focus and are consistently more engaged in the classroom than students who do not. But does your state ensure that all eligible students have access to breakfast in school through the federally funded School Breakfast Program? See the Food Research & Action Center’s recently released School Breakfast Scorecard (PDF) to find out. The scorecard measures states on the rate of participation of low-income students in the breakfast program. During the 2014–15 school year, 44 states increased their program participation.
If your school kitchen needs an upgrade to provide more nutritious meals, consider this new funding opportunity: the U.S. Department of Agriculture has teamed up with the National Football League and the National Dairy Council to announce $35 million in grants to help schools modernize their kitchen equipment for this purpose. According to a 2014 study, nearly 90 percent of schools lack the equipment needed to serve the healthier foods required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The $35 million will be provided to states, which then award grants to districts, giving priority to high-need schools. School leaders can learn more about these competitive grants here.
Lastly, the 2016 ASCD Forum titled “Learning for All = Teaching for All” is in full swing. Many educators have submitted blog posts on inclusive teaching and culturally responsive communities, available here, and the #ASCDForum Twitter conversation is ongoing. During the next three weeks, educators will explore related issues, including what all-inclusive teaching and learning look like for students, teachers, and administrators (February 15–28) and all-inclusive learning addressing race, social-economic status, gender communities, mental health, and English language learners (February 29–March 13). Join the ASCD Forum group on the ASCD EDge® social network today.