In rewriting No Child Left Behind, senators want to provide support services to educate the “whole child,” reports Education Week, covering a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
(That could include) dental and mental health, as well as programs aimed at providing prekindergarten and library services, summer and after-school enrichment, mentoring, college counseling, and increased parent and community involvement. The whole-child concept can also refer to making sure schools attend to students’ nonacademic interests, through programs such as the arts and physical education.
Budget-strapped schools would need to hire more staff, acknowledged U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the committee. “As you add all this stuff on, you’re going to have to add more people, mentors, librarians. … How do we do that?”
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who was Denver school superintendent, suggested “Congress should start by providing school districts and communities with greater funding flexibility so that they could choose the support services that will be most beneficial.”
The same day, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill requiring all districts and states to report on students’ physical activity and time in P.E. classes. “The bill would finance research to examine how children’s health affects their achievement,” EdWeek reports.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is pushing Promise Neighborhoods, a $210 million to plan to create more support services in urban areas modeled on the Harlem Children’s Zone.
These include: promoting more uniform academic standards and teacher-qualification requirements across states; setting more “appropriate” improvement targets for schools (i.e., ones that give schools credit for students’ academic growth rather than just overall achievement scores); expanding testing and accountability requirements to subjects beyond reading and math; offering incentives for teachers to teach in low-performing schools; and recognizing the “limited benefits” of school choice by focusing on improving all schools while continuing to offer choice.
When I hear “educate the whole child,” I reach for my . . . Well, unlike Goering, I have no gun. Let’s just say, I wonder how the feds are going to provide cradle-to-college care for the poor, the near poor and, inevitably, the not-so-poor while also funding reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and “21st-century skills.” And P.E.