The United States Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments for the Endrew v. Douglas County School District today. This case could determine the goal of special education in America: a bare minimum special education or a more than minimum special education. These arguments weigh the words “significant” and “meaningful” quite a lot since it is the center of the case. Another question is how do you measure progress for a student with an Individualized Education Program. Does the IEP team just write the IEP and make sure the student is on target to perform as well as their non-disabled peers or do you go above and beyond?
Another huge issue is funding for special education. The fact that the Federal government spends less than 15% of what they promised to do for special education is a large problem. It was not the Congressional intent to dump all of this on the states and local school districts but that is exactly what happened. As well, what does “standard” mean in this context? Is it the Common Core State Standards and the high-stakes testing that supposedly measures the ability of the student to grasp those standards? Do classroom grades count for anything anymore?
The case is officially submitted into the highest court in the country. This will be fascinating to watch, especially the final ruling.
The largest teachers union in America is going to have representatives from each state as part of their Every Student Succeeds Implementation Team. This group was formed so they can comb through the recently passed ESSA signed by President Obama last month. I know a few of the folks on this team, and I certainly hope they can help Delaware students, parents, teachers, and schools navigate through this transitional period.
There is news below about the ESSA and opt-out. I strongly urge all Delaware parents to read this as the new law allows for opt-out policies to be made at the state level, not the Federal level. This comes at a crucial time as the Delaware General Assembly is on the cusp of overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50. The ESSA does not allow for the feds to issue letters about funding cuts whatsoever. The key words in this are “maintains requirements that assessments be administered to at least 95% of all students“. Schools control that, but they have absolutely no control if a parent chooses to not have their child take the assessment.
From their monthly newsletter, “Professionally Speaking”:
The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in December has raised an overwhelming number of questions from educators and other education stakeholders as to what is actually contained within the law. Over the next few issues of DSEA’s digital newsletters, Professionally Speaking and Legislative Matters, we will feature some of the key differences between the No Child Left Behind Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act. In this issue we focus upon Standards and Assessments:
For any of the changes outlined above, it is important to remember that successful implementation of this new bill will be dependent upon the decisions made at the state and local levels. Educator input on state and district policies covering testing, accountability systems, and how ESSA can best support the whole child will be crucial to ensuring that the bill truly works for students and schools.
To meet DSEA and other state affiliate needs, NEA has created an ESSA Implementation Team. This team will have its first meeting in Washington, DC on January 22-23, 2016. Implementation team members will learn more about the core aspects of the law, provide advice about how best to equip affiliates and members with tools they need, and formulate strategies for connecting affiliates, members and staff together in this implementation effort so that we learn from each other and can help each other.
State affiliates were asked to submit name of staff and educators to be part of this team. DSEA team members from Delaware include Kristin Dwyer, DSEA Director of Government Relations, Deb Stevens, DSEA Director of Instructional Advocacy, Jesse Parsley, an Association Rep and 8th grade math teacher at Milford Central Academy, and Jill League, a member of the DPAS II Advisory Committee and a 5th grade teacher at Brandywine Springs Elementary. Watch for more information about ESSA implementation from our team in the near future.