Capitol Connection
APRIL 7, 2014
Top Story

Bipartisan Charter School Legislation Introduced

States would receive grants to develop and expand high-quality charter schools under a new bipartisan bill recently introduced in the House. The legislation—co-authored by House Education Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and ranking Democrat George Miller (CA)—would allow states to use federal funds to grow and replicate existing high-quality charter schools. Previously, federal charter school funding could only be used to open new schools.

Another provision of the bill would allow charter management organizations (such as KIPP and Uncommon Schools) to receive grants to open new schools, even if the organizations are located in states that do not receive federal charter school funding. Additionally, the bill would encourage charter schools to enroll special populations—including at-risk students, racial minorities, students with disabilities, and English learners—by explicitly approving of “weighted lotteries” that give preference to those demographics during the admission process.

The legislation, which calls for charter school funding to be increased from $250 million to $300 million per year, would merge existing federal programs that provide funding for charter school development and facilities management. The bill is expected to pass through the House, as a similar measure passed in 2011 on a 365–54 vote. Regarding the measure’s future in the Senate, Chairman Kline stated that he is "increasingly optimistic."


Common Core No More

Indiana has become the first state to repeal its adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Governor Mike Pence (R) has been vocal about the need for Indiana to have standards written "for Hoosiers, by Hoosiers" and signed the recent legislation to void the standards within the state. But the repeal does not mean that the Common Core standards will disappear completely from Indiana classrooms; later this month, the Indiana State Board of Education will vote on replacement standards that are an amalgam of the Common Core standards and Indiana’s previous standards. For more Common Core developments, subscribe to ASCD’s Core Connection, a twice-monthly e-newsletter with timely Common Core information and implementation resources.

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Extending Teacher Reach

As the demands on principals continue to grow and more schools turn to distributed leadership models, teachers are increasingly embracing more multifaceted leadership roles. In his latest column, Cultivating Teacher Leadership, ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter recognizes the importance of purposeful leadership opportunities for teachers and notes that many schools face challenges in providing teacher leaders with formal opportunities to leverage their skills outside the classroom. The column also highlights conversations that have emerged from the ASCD Forum (through April 11) on teacher leadership—teachers have underscored that they must collaborate with one another as part of a personal commitment to ongoing learning, and administrators have discussed the need to promote a culture where it is safe for teachers to take risks.

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Peer Reviewers Needed: Educational Media and School Climate

Ready to Learn (RTL) is a federal program that supports many educational television shows for young children—such as Sesame Street and SUPER WHY—as well as the creation of other educational media including learning websites, games, and iPad apps. RTL is seeking reviewers to participate on an independent panel review of media products this summer. Reviewers must have knowledge of educational media production, early learning, and math or reading; interested reviewers should submit a résumé.

The Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS) is seeking peer reviewers to evaluate FY14 grant proposals for the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program, the Project Prevent Grant Program, Grants to SEAs for Emergency Management, and the School Climate Transformation Grant Program. Reviewers are expected to commit approximately 35–40 hours to the process in order to complete a review of 10–12 applications assigned to their panel and participate in three conference calls. Go online to read more about the opportunity and submit your résumé.

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