Education Trust News

Far Short of the Need

U.S. Chamber Calls for Accountability, High Standards

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently outlined its priorities for the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  As a leading voice for the nation’s business community, the Chamber maintains that the success of the economy depends on every student graduating ready for college and the workforce.

Supports for Teachers Will Help Students

Everyone agrees that we need to raise our education standards if we hope to raise student achievement. That goal is at the heart of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. But higher standards alone won’t do the job. Teachers also need instructional tools to help students meet the new, tougher expectations.

Opponents of instructional supports aligned to the Common Core claim that they would stifle teacher innovation. Actually, the creation of such optional, high-quality resources would help teachers so they no longer have to work late into the night, cobbling together lessons from a patchwork of tools that don’t necessarily align with the curriculum.

DREAM Act Could Open Doors for Undocumented Youth

The American Dream is a step closer to reality for some 1.9 million undocumented children and young adults. Most undocumented students who arrived here as youngsters face barriers to higher education, since even if they can enroll in college, they can’t get the same state and federal financial aid as others.

At a press conference on May 11, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced the introduction of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. Hours later, Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced a House version of the bill. The legislation is designed to blaze a path to citizenship—and educational opportunity, including state and federal financial aid.

Title I at Risk on Capitol Hill

New details are emerging about reauthorization plans for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act from the House Education & the Workforce Committee. And so far, not so good.

Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) plans to introduce a series of smaller bills rather than one comprehensive piece of legislation. The first proposal in that series sets an ominous tone. It would let districts walk away from the federal commitment to provide low-income students with the extra supports they need to achieve in school.

National Civics Test Shows Gains and Gaps

Can our fourth-graders name two rights of U.S. citizens? Can our eighth-graders make sense of a graph on voting patterns? And can our high school seniors relate the “melting pot” to U.S. history?

New 2010 data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress paints a mixed picture of school achievement in civics. The good news: Among fourth-graders, scores climbed overall. Since 1998, achievement gaps between blacks and whites, and between Hispanics and whites narrowed slightly.

Much of the nation’s debate about education reform has focused on accountability and standards, with an emphasis on improving student competency in math and reading. Critics fault this emphasis for squeezing out studies in other subjects such as civics. Yet without reading, kids don’t have a chance at mastering content. At the same time, exposure to a rich array of subject matter, including civics, strengthens students’ reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. That interplay could very well explain the civics gains seen among fourth-graders. 

Dollars for Diplomas: Senate Must Save Pell

The Federal Pell Grant Program enables millions of students to attain their college dreams every year. These individuals include Erin Way of Virginia, whose father lost his job while she was in high school. Thanks to her Pell Grant, Erin managed to attend college anyway. She eventually went on to earn a Ph.D.

If the U.S. Senate approves the budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives recently, it will shatter the dreams of promising young people like Erin. That budget slashes the maximum Pell Grant from $5,550 to $3,040 and puts these grants completely out of reach for 1.4 million students.

10 States and the Justice Department Sue For-Profits

Until now, the fight to protect students from exploitative practices at for-profit college companies has mostly taken place in Congress and the U.S. Department of Education. Earlier this week, however, 10 state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice joined the fray. Led by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, the states announced a joint investigation into misleading recruiting practices, specifically related to the collection of financial-aid money.