Thursday, April 30, 2015

Senate ESEA Draft: Review of Approved Amendments– Part III (All Done) | deutsch29

Senate ESEA Draft: Review of Approved Amendments– Part III (All Done) | deutsch29:

Senate ESEA Draft: Review of Approved Amendments– Part III (All Done)






 On April 16, 2015, the Senate education committee approved the Alexander-Murray draft of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), a 601-page document entitled, The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.

The draft approval was accompanied by 29 amendments, which can be found on this Senate ed page.
I reviewed the entire original 601-page Alexander-Murray draft in a series of six posts that can be accessed here.
I have already reviewed 20 of the 29 amendments. My review of the first 10 can be accessed here, and the second 10 can be accessed here.
In this post, I conclude my review of the 29 amendments with the last nine.
Let’s jump right in.
This nine-page amendment adds to Title VII (“Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education”) grants for Native American and Alaska Native Immersion schools and programs. That is, these grants promote the usage of Native American and Alaska native languages as the primary languages of instruction. Of course, given this is ESEA in 2015, one goal is “to improve student outcomes within Native American and Alaska native communities,” which means test scores, but it also includes, “if appropriate, rates of high school graduation, career readiness, and enrollment in postsecondary education or job training programs” (pg. 6).
An interesting limitation to the US secretary of education is that he/she is not allowed “to give a priority in awarding grants…  based on the information described in paragraph (1)(E)” (pg. 6)– which means that the secretary cannot use this grant cannot to give priority to Native American and Alaskan native charter schools or private schools over local education agencies or tribal education agencies.
The terms of reporting the usages of the grant to the secretary is loosely defined in this grant: “Each eligible entity that receives a grant under this part shall provide an annual report to the Secretary in such form and manner as the Secretary may require” (pg. 9).
This single-page amendment to Title I clarifies that the stipulations of states’ implementing assessments that are the same for all students (except for those students “with the most significant cognitive disabilities” {pg. 41}) is not to be confused with the federal government determining state or local law regarding opting children out of such state assessments:
RULE OF CONSTRUCTION ON PARENT AND GUARDIAN RIGHTS–Nothing in this part shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent or guardian’s child participate in the statewide academic assessments under this paragraph.
In other words, the federal government wants to stay out of state and local decisions regarding parental opt-out laws. In order for such to be true, it must be the case that the federal government honors a state’s good-faith “implementation” of testing in accordance with the requirements for Title I funding and holds the state implementation as separate from student completion of the state-implemented tests when issues of parental rights enter the picture.
This nine-page amendment to Title II (“High Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders”) adds grants for “supporting high-ability learners and learning.” This part is also given the name, “Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act of 2015.” As the name states, this amendment is “to build and enhance the ability of elementary schools and secondary schools nationwide to meet the special education needs of gifted and talented students” (pg. 2). At the center of this amendment is the goal of meeting those “challenging State academic standards.”
Entities eligible for grants under this amendment include state and local education agencies; higher ed institutions, “other public agencies, and other private agencies and organizations to assist such agencies…” (pg. 3); so, it seems that any “agency” or “institution” is eligible to apply.
The secretary is also supposed to consult with “experts in the field of the education of gifted and talented students” in order “to establish a national Research Center for the Education of Gifted and Talented Children and Youth. A private entity may not lead this research center; only a state ed agency, or higher ed institution, or a “consortium” of state ed, higher ed, and “other public of private agencies or organizations” (pg. 5).
This 30-page amendment is to Title IV (“Safe and Healthy Students”) and is for “21st Century Community Learning Centers.” The amendment is to provide “tutoring… Senate ESEA Draft: Review of Approved Amendments– Part III (All Done) | deutsch29:

Judge in Atlanta school cheating case reduces stiff prison sentences - LA Times

Judge in Atlanta school cheating case reduces stiff prison sentences - LA Times:

Judge in Atlanta school cheating case reduces stiff prison sentences



In an unusual action, the judge presiding over the landmark Atlanta public school cheating trial changed his mind and on Thursday lightened the stiff prison sentences he meted out two weeks ago to high-ranking educators convicted of inflating students’ test scores.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry W. Baxter cut the seven-year terms for three senior administrators down to three years, in line with what prosecutors had recommended.

“When a judge goes home and keeps thinking over and over that something’s wrong, something is usually wrong,” Baxter said. “I want to modify the sentence so I can live with it.”

Attorneys for the convicted educators raised no objections to the lighter sentences, yet said they would continue to move forward with their plans to appeal.

The Atlanta community has been sharply divided over the punishment of the educators, all African Americans who worked at schools in struggling, low-income neighborhoods. Before the original sentencing, many — including Andrew Young, the civil rights leader, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Atlanta mayor — pleaded for leniency and questioned the wisdom of jail time, arguing the educators had no criminal records and posed little threat to society.

When Baxter doled out heavy penalties two weeks ago, he argued that lengthy prison sentences for the administrators were fitting because the officials had led a system of widespread corruption that harmed thousands of children. The convicted educators, he emphasized, had consistently refused to accept responsibility for their roles in the scandal, which he called “the sickest thing that’s ever happened in this town.”

 While many criticized the sentences — which were longer than some violent criminals face — others insisted that prison time would send a stern warning to educators across the city and the nation. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed voiced firm support for the judge’s initial punishment, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that severe penalties were appropriate because “children were involved.”

The Atlanta trial stemmed from the largest known case of academic misconduct in U.S. history and was the first in the nation in which educators were accused of racketeering.

Eleven educators were convicted April 1 of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, a statute originally intended to prosecute mobsters and drug cartels, for conspiring to change students’ answers on tests to ensure that schools met new high-stakes testing goals. One defendant was acquitted, and another is to be sentenced in August.

Before sentencing on April 14, Baxter had urged the convicted educators to accept an offer from prosecutors that would have allowed them to avoid extensive time behind bars in exchange for taking responsibility, apologizing and waiving their right to appeal. Only two accepted.

Clearly rankled that the majority refused to accept the last-minute deal, Baxter sentenced the remaining eight educators to prison, reserving his harshest punishment for the highest-ranking educators. Sharon Davis-Williams, Michael Pitts and Tamara Cotman, all regional supervisors with Atlanta Public Schools, each received seven years in prison, 13 years of probation and a $25,000 fine.

But a few days later, Baxter had second thoughts and notified the trio of senior administrators that he had scheduled another hearing. On Thursday, he reduced the administrators’ sentences to three years in prison and seven years of probation, with a $10,000 fine and 2,000 hours of community service.

“I’m going to put myself out to pasture in the not-too-distant future, and I don’t want to be out in the pasture with any regrets,” the judge said.

While many speculated the judge had been swayed by community sentiment, legal experts noted his reasoning could be more calculated. All of the convicted educators who received prison sentences have said they plan to appeal. By taking a more measured look at the sentences, modifying them closer to the prosecution's recommendations, the judge could limit the educators' prospects in appellate courts.

“I’m not Oliver Wendell Holmes, but I do have a feel for trials and cases, and it’s my humble opinion that this case is going to be affirmed,” Baxter said after he had detailed the new sentences. The convicted educators, he advised, should go ahead and start performing community service with students as they go through the appeals process.

There are few precedents for such a punishment. Academic misconduct rarely ends up in criminal court, and when it does it usually results in probation or a short period of incarceration.

In a recent cheating scandal in Ohio, a senior administrator with Columbus’ public schools was sentenced to 15 days in jail last year after pleading no contest to attempted tampering with government records. The former superintendent of the school system was given one year of probation and a former assistant principal was sentenced to two years of probation.

The Atlanta cheating case is different, however, because so many of the educators refused to plead guilty.

Throughout the trial, the state portrayed the three senior administrators as key players in Atlanta’s cheating scandal, which implicated nearly 180 educators across 44 schools. The schools’ former superintendent, Beverly L. Hall, was charged but did not appear in court as she struggled with stage IV breast cancer. She died March 2.

A 2011 state report found the administrators created a “culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation” to pressure employees into crossing ethical lines. Teachers received bonuses if their students performed well on standardized tests, and were threatened with demotion or even termination if their schools did not meet annual progress targets.

Defense attorneys say administrators did not instruct lower-level educators to cheat. Prosecutors say the administrators not only turned a blind eye to suspicious jumps in test scores, but also pressured teachers to improve scores, covered up cheating and punished whistle-blowers.

Vernetta Keith Nuriddin, a parent who lives in southwestern Atlanta, believes the high-ranking officials provided little oversight and were too eager to report unbelievable gains.

In first grade, her son struggled to read, yet his test scores had him performing at the fifth-grade level. “They told me he was in the top 1% of the state, yet I could see he couldn’t Judge in Atlanta school cheating case reduces stiff prison sentences - LA Times:

Special Nite Cap: Catch Up on Today's Post 4/30/15

Special Nite Cap - Catch Up on Today's Post 4/30/15


Special Nite Cap 

CORPORATE ED REFORM




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