Thursday, April 16, 2015

LWV Teaneck CALENDAR May-June 2015

These are Past Items from 2014

Friday, May 1, 2015: 
Convention Cocktail Reception. 
Making Democracy Work Awards

Saturday, May 2: LWVNJ State 61st Biennial Convention. 8-4. The Convention will commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. $95.00 

Thursday, May 7 
"Money in Politics” 
10 AM Leonia Library 227 Fort Lee Road.

Monday, May 11: LWVT Board Meeting, 7:30 PM Shirley Sosland’s house 
470 Sagamore Ave.

Thursday, June 4: 63rd
Annual Membership Meeting

Education Policy RoundUp


Education policy continues to be a hot topic on the federal, state and local levels.


Reauthorization of Federal Education Act
Rare news of political bipartisanship came from DC this month, as Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced agreement on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESA), currently called No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The new legislation is called “The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” continuing the custom of naming the federal aid law with its aspirational goal.


In a press release, Alexander was quoted as saying that the new legislation is aimed at fixing key weaknesses in NCLB. “Basically, our agreement continues important measurements of the academic progress of students but restores to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement. This should produce fewer and more appropriate tests.”
In short, the bipartisan bill negates almost all of the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” education initiatives, stating that the federal government cannot force states to enact punitive accountability programs. The act maintains annual testing requirements: President Obama has made it clear that he would veto any bill that did not include annual testing. However, it strips away the federal sanctions and unfunded mandates that have proven burdensome to public school districts across the nation.


States and school districts would have more authority to decide how to use standardized test scores and the federal government would be prohibited from dictating how to “reform” low-performing schools. Importantly, states will be free to decide what academic standards—including Common Core—they  will maintain in their states. The act also preserves one of the most successful provisions of NCLB, which is the reporting requirement of disaggregated data on student achievement, that breaks down scores according to demographic categories, including race, ethnicity, gender, English fluency, learning disability and socioeconomic status.
A draft of the proposed “Every Child Achieves 2015” legislation can be viewed online or downloaded as a pdf file fromwww.help.senate.gov


State-wide Opt Out Update
Meantime, resistance to New Jersey’s high-stakes standardized testing program, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), snowballed in the weeks leading up to the March testing period. There are no official figures yet on how many students’ parents  refused to allow their children to be tested. According to estimates compiled by the New Jersey Education Association, at least 50,000 students “opted out,” but that the actual number may be higher as more districts report their test participation numbers. 
New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner David Hespe reported that the state was approaching 1.6 million completed tests by the end of March, meaning nearly 800,000 students had participated so far out of the projected 896,000. Also unknown: will that number rise even higher for the second round of PARCC tests, scheduled for administration in May?


Uncertainty about the numbers has prompted State Senator Nia Gill (D-Essex) to introduce legislation (S2884) that would require all schools to publicly release test participation rates within five days of the conclusion of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing. Sen. Gill said she introduced the bill last month after complaints from local residents who couldn't get information about test participation rates from their local schools, although many schools announced test participation rates at school board meetings or other venues. Teaneck schools superintendent Barbara Pinsak has reported that parents of about 60 students refused the tests: about 30 at Teaneck High School and 30 in the elementary and middle schools combined.


Pending Legislation
Furor over the PARCC assessments spawned 4 bills that passed unanimously in the NJ Assembly, in what seemed like record time in response to well-organized grassroots opposition to the NJDOE-mandated testing regime. 



[INSERT SUMMARY OF BILLS] The bills, which are currently waiting to be scheduled for a vote in the Senate, have already gained pledges of support from at least 20 Senators, including Loretta Weinberg.
There was also an uproar over Pearson's spying on students' social media accounts, which has resulted in a bill requiring background checks on the folks who do the spying. Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) held a hearing on the issue in March, and is one of sponsors of the bill (A4345). The bill would require all employees of state-contracted companies to undergo the same background check as public school employees before they can gain access to students' personal information. The testing company Pearson insisted that the searches were justified to prevent PARCC test leaks, although there was no evidence of any cheating or posting of information that could have compromised test security.


Margot Embree Fisher

Education Charter School Update Position


Charter Schools – 2000,  Update 2015

The original LWVNJ position statement (2000), supports the intent of the 1995 legislation that established charter schools as a means to encourage innovation within local public schools. However, that support came with qualifications; furthermore, the educational landscape has changed substantially over the past 15 years.

The study materials included: 1) accountability, including school governance, student achievement, and communication of innovative practices and curricula to the district public schools; 2) the role of district residents in charter approval; 3) what organizations should be allowed to authorize charter schools; 4) full-time virtual charter schools; and 5) oversight of educational management organizations in the operation of charter schools.

The LWVNJ Education formed the position from the consensus of 26 leagues, (816 members). The  study materials on the areas listed above were developed by the committee.The full position is available at: http://lwvnj.org/images/issues/charterschools_update-2015.pdf  

Education:The New ESEA

Reauthorization of Federal Education Act

Rare news of political bipartisanship came from DC this month, as Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and RPatty Murray (D-Wash.) announced agreement on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (EASA), currently called No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The new legislation is called “The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.” Alexander said that the new legislation is aimed at fixing key weaknesses in NCLB:

“Basically, our agreement continues important measurements of the academic progress of students but restores to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement. This should produce fewer and more appropriate tests.”

The bipartisan bill negates almost all of the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” education initiatives, stating that the federal government cannot force states to enact punitive accountability programs. President Obama has made it clear that he would veto any bill that did not include annual testing; The act maintains annual testing requirements. It strips away the federal sanctions and unfunded mandates that have proven burdensome to public school districts across the nation.

States and school districts would have more authority to decide how to use standardized test scores. The federal government would be prohibited from dictating how to “reform” low-performing schools. States will be free to decide what academic standards—including Common Core—they  will maintain in their states.

The act also preserves one of the most successful provisions of NCLB: the reporting requirement of disaggregated data on student achievement, which breaks down scores according to demographic categories.

A draft of the proposed “Every Child Achieves 2015” legislation can be viewed online or downloaded as a pdf file from www.help.senate.gov

--Margot Fisher, Director, Education


Reports from the Voting Rights Front

Reports from Elizabeth MacNamara’s letters
the LWV site:

Voter photo identification was NOT required at the Wisconsin polls on April 7. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a big blow to voters in Wisconsin. The Court refused to hear a challenge to the state’s voter photo ID law, one of the strictest laws of its kind in the country. The Wisconsin law allows for only eight forms of acceptable identification; a Veterans Administration identification card does not meet the state’s requirements. More: http://lwv.org/blog/us-supreme-court-chooses-not-address-wisconsin-voter-photo-id-law

In Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe honored his promise to citizens of his state and protected voting rights by vetoing a bill that would have imposed voter photo ID requirements on absentee voters. More: http://www.nbc29.com/story/28634502/gov-mcauliffe-announces-his-response-to-va-bills

In Ohio, Governor John Kasich used his line-item veto to kill a provision that would have required out-of-state college students who registered to vote in Ohio to also obtain an Ohio driver’s license and vehicle registration in order to vote. More: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/04/01/ohio-transportation-bill.html


The Georgia League and its partners rallied at the Capitol on what turned out to be one of the coldest days of the winter and action alerts were regularly dropping into email boxes of members and supporters throughout the session. The Georgia General Assembly had a bill cutting early voting from 21 days to 12 days with no weekend voting opportunities.

It had failed to cross over from one house to the other just a few weeks before. But Thursday at midnight the legislature was gaveled out of session and legislators went home without doing further damage to elections in Georgia.More: http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/2015/04/03/early-voting-laws-narrowly-escape-sine-die-intact/

Members! A “Must -Go-To”

Members!  A “Must -Go-To”
Thursday, May 7 Money in Politics. 10 AM Leonia Library 227 Fort Lee Road.Narrated Power Point from the MA LWV explaining the history of money and political campaigns and where we are today. The presentation is 30 minutes, followed by discussion. Sponsored by LWVNV

Monday, April 6, 2015

Members!

Members!

Want to follow a policy area and write for League Lines? Voter’s Rights, Environment, Health care legislation, and more. Articles on “all things League” are most welcome.

Contact Pat Libutti, Editor, with your interest area:lwvteaneck@gmail.com