Turning to upcoming national laws, our UA colleague Sandra Stotsky wrote a piece outlining Ten Steps to a Better ESEA which highlights her views on how we can re-authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (more commonly known as No Child Left Behind Act) so that it “might actually upgrade k-12 education.” Do you have your own ideas regarding how we should change the ESEA?
On a final note, our thoughts this week are with our friends and colleagues who have been affected by the recent damaging storms and flooding that has recently impacted the state and region. We hope you stay safe and that your recovery is swift.
News from Around the Natural State
The North Little Rock School Board approved a $261 million, five-year facilities plan with some uncertainty over how the district will fund the proposal. The board will determine by June if it will ask voters in the fall or spring to approve a 7.4 mill school property-tax increase that will be necessary to fund the proposal. The district’s current rate is 40.9 mills. The approval would set into place five years of construction that would update, close, or redirect nearly every building in the district.
Over the past five years, the Pulaski County Special and North Little Rock school districts used millions of state-provided desegregation dollars for other purposes, including general-operating expenses, according to financial studies commissioned by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office. The Attorney General’s office released findings from the studies done by Navigant, a New York-based company contracted for $250,000 last year to determine, in part, how state desegregation funds are spent in the three Pulaski County school districts. Navigant is also analyzing desegregation spending done by the Little Rock School District, which receives more than half of the annual state desegregation aid going to the three Pulaski County districts. No date has been set for the release of that Little Rock report.
News from Around the Nation
In the coming months, more states—especially those that won grants through the $4 billion federal Race to the Top initiative—are expected to put out requests for proposals for such details as overhauls to the data systems that store student and teacher information; the provision of “value added” analyses of teacher performance; and the reporting and professional development that help teachers and principals use the information from the systems. In sum, states and districts must construct integrated systems for teacher-performance management—no small challenge in a field in which few good examples exist. “States and districts are going to need considerable amounts of technical expertise,” said Brian M. Stecher, the associate director of RAND Education at the Santa Monica-based RAND Corp., a nonprofit policy-research organization.
Republican governors and lawmakers are pushing for a major expansion of voucher programs that in some cases seek to give taxpayer money for private school tuition to a much larger swath of the population, including middle-income families. Many of those legislative endeavors come as no surprise, given that GOP candidates for state office made historic gains across the country last fall, in many instances after promising to expand school choice—a longtime priority for many Republicans.
Don’t forget, you can always keep up with more education news on the In the News section of our website.
While the primary source for these data is the U.S. Census Bureau, this interactive map makes use of historical Census data provided by the Minnesota Population Center’s National Historical Geographic Information System.
Mark Your Calendar
April 29 (TOMORROW!): Arkansas Association of Curriculum and Instruction Administrators Conference, Hot Springs Convention Center
May 4-6: Arkansas Association of Federal Coordinators (AAFC) Conference, Hot Springs Convention Center
May 11: School Law Conferences sponsored by the AAEA and APSRC (two, one-day drive-in conferences) Click here for more info!
May 16: State Board of Education Meeting, 9:00 AM, Arch Ford Building, State Capitol Complex
May 17: Joint House and Senate Education Committee Meeting, TBA