What is the comparability loophole?

ESEA Reauthorization is the coming attraction in Congress this fall.  If she were selling tickets, people would be lining up around the block just to see if she will make an appearance.  Some are betting that she will.  Most are skeptical -- at best -- if she will even be permitted to take the stage.  Back in 2007, when she was supposed to star in the blockbuster hit of "Changing No Child Left Behind," she was no where to be found.  Well, correction, she started to get off the ground, maybe even made it to the dressing room to get revised, but never fully showed herself as a finished product.  And now that she has this unrealiable track record, many in Congress (namely House Republicans) insist that they will put together their own show -- in smaller magnitude -- that will carry the same punch.

One of the many, many [read numerous] proposals on what should be included when (if) ESEA reauthorization happens this fall is to fix the "comparability loophole."  The comparability loophole describes the way federal money is delivered to schools serving large amounts (or percentages) of low-income families' children.  Boiled down, this means that in order to get federal funds, a school district must (among other fiscal requirements) spend as much of their own monies (state and local) on schools with high concentrations of low-income students as it does on schools within the same districts that have low concentrations of low-income students.  This is known as the "comparability" fiscal requirement.  It stems from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title I provision.  (ESEA is the base bill that has been reauthorized several times, most recently known as No Child Left Behind.)

More after the break...


Sign Me Up! (or) Say What?

Another Monday morning where the dirth of good, juicy education policy news is rather annoying.  Being is Washington it seems that the buzz definitely quiets when Congress is on recess.  Meanwhile, the education policy pundits, wonks, and peddlers are gnawing on speculation and media leftovers.  So, thought I'd humor you with my innermost thoughts when it comes to this stuff. 

When it comes to education policy headlines, I find that I am in one of these two camps. 

Either I am willing to immediately jump on board -- no elaboration needed, "sign me up," I'm down --


I put the skids on by seeking much more confirmation -- run that by me again, "say what?"

What are your reactions?  I'm sure you are not nearly as binomial as I.

Image source pages for the cat and baby.


Philadelphia's Arlene Ackerman is Out. But Why?

Booting up my computer this morning, I again saw headlines of the Philadelphia education leader that is no more -- Arlene Ackerman.  Admittedly, I have not followed her administration, the policies, or the press.  I do know, however, that some organizations in the civil rights community welcomed her presences in Philadelphia and were optimistic of what she would do there.  So, I though to ask someone more familiar with Philadelphia about it.  Here's a few lines from my anonymous source:
"Over time, the theatrics surrounding her management style and personality became the story, not what she actually accomplished or attempted to for students.  Due to our schools governance structure, having allies and good relationships is very important.  She didn't seem to do too well with creating the right allies."
So it seems the press clippings jive with what Phillies felt on the ground.  But what about her education policies?  How were those received?
"My sense is that most folks wouldn't quabble with her actual agenda."
Hmm.  So are there any important take-a-ways as Ackerman leaves?
"Seems more like a case for 'if you want to be big city superintendent, you gotta be a politician too.'"
Lesson learned.  Resume the forward-charge.

Click here to read Words from Ackerman


"Sounds Good to Me"

NCLB Waivers

As of August 19, at least 10 states have signaled that they will file requests for waivers of some No Child Left Behind (NCLB) provisions, 6 states have already submitted NCLB waiver requests, and 3 states have decline to submit formal waivers but instead submitted position statements giving notice to the U.S. Department of Education that they do not intend to comply with NCLB standards for the 2011-2012 school year (and beyond). I found this cartoon on Blue Stream Prairie and thought you might also enjoy it.  All credit goes to the author and cartoonist.


It Takes One to Know One

It has occurred to me that many of the high-profile education reforms (many of which I have spent the last 5 weeks following on twitter, attending their speeches, reading their newly released reports, and cruntching their policies) probably have never spent 24 hours in the public schools that they have remedies for. 
Maybe this shocks no one.
But for me, as one who sees such merit in many, many of the reform proposals, it seems a bit disingenous to have a cure and have never interacted with the "patients," their communities, or the everyday stressors that may be responsible for the illness in the first place.


Notice to Parents (especially those in APS schools): School Choice is Law

In doing some research, I came across the following provision within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended and authorized as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  This provision concerns school choice for parents and families that attend a Title I school if the school is categorized as a school in need of improvement. 

Perhaps this helps some families, especially given the volitile state of some Title I schools in Atlanta Public School System.  Check first to see if the school is on the "needs improvement" list.  If so, these federal requirements should apply.  The information shared below is from the Congressional Research Service and was presented to the U.S. House of Representatives Education and the Workforce committee in June of 2011. (Internal citations omitted.)  For reference, AYP is Adequate Yearly Progress and LEA is local educational agency (like a school district).

After not making AYP for two consecutive years, a Title I-A school is identified for school improvement.  Being designated for school improvement carries with it the requirement to develop or revise a school  plan designed to result in the improvement of the school. LEAs are required to provide schools within their jurisdictions with technical assistance in the design and implementation of school improvement plans. Schools identified for improvement must use at least 10% of their Title I-A funding for professional development. All students attending Title I-A schools identified for school improvement also must be offered public school choice—the opportunity to transfer to another public school within the same LEA.
Under public school choice, students must be afforded the opportunity to choose from among two or more schools, located within the same LEA, that have not been identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, and that also have not been identified as persistently dangerous schools. LEAs are required to provide students who transfer to different schools with transportation and must give priority in choosing schools to the lowest-achieving children from low-income families. LEAs may not use lack of capacity as a reason for denying students the opportunity to transfer to a school of choice. In instances where there are no eligible schools in the student’s LEA, LEAs are encouraged to enter into cooperative agreements with surrounding LEAs to enable students to transfer to an eligible public school.
Emily Barbour, Jody Feder, and Rebecca Skinner, CRS 7-5700, Secretary of Education’s Waiver Authority with Respect to Title I-A Provisions Included in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Congressional Research Services (June 28, 2011) at 8-9, http://edworkforce.house.gov/UploadedFiles/June_28_2011_CRS_report.pdf.