Civics teachers dispatched to D.C.

With Congress deadlocked on raising the debt ceiling, “a special team of 40 eighth-grade civics teachers was air-dropped into Washington in a last-ditch effort to teach congressional leaders how the government’s legislative process works,” reports The Onion.

“We started them off with the basics, like the difference between a senator and a representative, and then moved on to more complex concepts, like what a resolution is,” Bozeman, MT social studies teacher Heidi Rossmiller told reporters as all 535 members of Congress copied down the definition of “checks and balances” from a whiteboard in the House chamber. “It’s been a bit of an uphill battle, since most of them seemed to have no real sense of how or why a bill is passed, and Sen. [Harry] Reid [D-NV] had to come up to me during a break and ask, ‘Ms. Rossmiller, what happens if Congress can’t reach a compromise?’ But hopefully it will all start to sink in soon.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) stormed out of a lecture on bipartisan cooperation, claiming it was “too hard,” reports The Onion, which is a satirical publication.

 

 

Bad blood in Congress

Don’t expect bipartisan cooperation on higher education in the new Congress, Hill staffers and American Enterprise Institute analysts say. There’s a lot of bad blood.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  In an experiment at three Ohio community colleges, paying low-income parents for grades of C or better raised the pass rate.

What now for education?

Obama’s education plans fit the new Congress, which will take a more humble approach to federal policy, predicts Chad Aldeman on The Quick and the Ed.

Obama’s Blueprint for ESEA Reauthorization admits the federal government can’t make states fix all the schools — one in three — that haven’t made  Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind, Aldeman writes.

Instead, the Obama Blueprint asks states to really focus on repairing a smaller, more manageable number of persistently low-performing schools identified by the states themselves.

The Obama Blueprint asks for greater transparency around teacher and principal effectiveness, requires states to measure the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs, and would compel states to publicly report data on college enrollment and remediation rates by high school. None of these new data elements are paired with any stronger accountability than a “plan” to address any inequities that are revealed.

States can join the Common Core Standards Initiative or “upgrade their existing standards, working with their 4-year public university system to certify that mastery of the standards ensures that a student will not need to take remedial coursework upon admission to a postsecondary institution in the system.”

. . . the anti-testing crowd won’t like that none of the testing requirements would be repealed, civil rights groups may not like a lesser focus on important sub-groups of students in schools deemed OK overall, and the teachers unions may not like the new teacher effectiveness or public transparency elements – but all in all it holds up remarkably well for the changing political landscape.

If the Republicans were telling the truth with that Pledge to America, there will be less discretionary spending and therefore less money to buy reforms.

The National Education Association, which put $40 million into the elections, saw some allies defeated, notes Politics K-12.

. . . the NEA and other education groups, including the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Boards Association, are hoping the Department of Education provides regulatory relief from what they see as the most onerous parts of the NCLB law, possibly including the “all-or-nothing consequences” of not meeting achievement targets, which don’t differentiate between whether a school misses the mark for one subgroup of students (such as English-language learners) or all its students.

The red tide carried many GOP governors and state superintendents into office, State EdWatch reports. But not in California — now a national refuge for Democrats — where the union-backed candidate, Tom Torlakson, beat Larry Aceves, a retired superintendent.

For more on education and the elections, see National Journal.