On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos. Among other topics, DeVos was asked a wide range of questions about her views on school choice, accountability, equity, and the rising cost of college. In the coming week, the full Senate is expected to vote on DeVos’ confirmation. In the meantime, we’ve assembled 20 ASCD resources to familiarize you with policies a new Secretary of Education will face, as well as ways that you can advocate for education.
Catch Up on the Hearing
- If you didn’t have a chance to watch the hearing, you can watch the full archived version on C-SPAN.
- If you’d prefer a recap, check out a recent episode of the NPR program 1A, hosted by Joshua Johnson. Johnson invited ASCD authors Rick Hess (Education Unbound) and Diane Ravitch (EdSpeak) to discuss and debate what transpired at the hearing. Hess will be a panelist at ASCD’s legislative conference which starts this weekend. Listen to the NPR segment here.
Education Advocacy Resources
As educators, you advocate for your students every day. As you continue to engage in the ongoing education policy debates at the federal, state, and local levels, you may develop the desire to drive change on particular issues close to your heart. These ASCD resources can help you enhance your advocacy and expand your influence.
- Capitol Connection―Sign up for ASCD’s free advocacy and policy newsletter to receive weekly updates that will keep you informed about breaking policy news and help you get involved to help lawmakers make the best education policy decisions.
- Educational Leadership: What It Takes to Get a Policymaker’s Attention―This article shares advice for making your case effectively to make sure your advocacy goes right.
The Debate Over Choice
Many of the questions at the hearing were about DeVos’ long-standing ideological and monetary support for private school voucher programs. Senators tried to reconcile her support for unfettered “choice” with an expectation for a modicum of accountability for the use of taxpayer funds. Perhaps DeVos best summed up her view on this matter by declaring, “I trust parents.” Charter schools also were raised as a choice option. The following resources take a look at the successes of charter schools over the past quarter century, as well as areas for improvement.
- Policy Priorities: The Promises and Pitfalls of Charter Schools After 25 Years―This issue examines the ideas that spurred the charter school movement, the evolution of the concept and rationales behind them, and their current status as an education reform.
- Policy Priorities: Making Accountability Meaningful―This issue examines the benefits and challenges of more meaningful accountability systems and profiles pioneering states and districts that are doing this work.
- Educational Leadership: Smarter Charters―The authors give their perspective on ways in which charter schools are―and are not―living up to their promise, and ways to make them more effective.
Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
Several times during Tuesday’s hearing, the discussion turned toward ESSA, the primary federal K-12 education law in the U.S., which was signed into law by President Obama just over a year ago. Because the changes required under ESSA won’t fully take effect until the 2017-18 school year, committee members were interested to hear the nominee’s plans for supporting this continued implementation. The following resources will help you learn more about ESSA, the changes that will occur in your school or district as a result of the law’s implementation, and give the opportunity to get further involved.
- Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act Webinar Series―ASCD’s Government Relations team leads this series of in-depth webinars focusing on key provisions of the new law including testing, accountability, professional development, and school improvement.
- ESSA Resource Page―This page has all of ASCD’s resources to keep you informed and updated about ESSA, including a comparison chart to the previous education law, known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), FAQ sheets, sources where you can receive SEL funding in ESSA, an implementation timeline, and more.
- ESSA State Implementation Map―Take a state-by-state look at the ESSA implementation process and find resources and opportunities to get involved.
Students’ Rights Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Multiple Senators raised the importance of protecting students’ rights under IDEA and how federal requirements for special education would operate under various choice plans that might be in part paid for by federal funds. The following resources will help teachers understand the history of IDEA and their role in classroom implementation.
- ASCD Book: A Teacher’s Guide to Special Education―Authors David Bateman and Jenifer Cline clarify what general education teachers need to know about special education law and processes and provide a guide to instructional best practices for the inclusive classroom.
- ASCD Book: Leading an Inclusive School: Access and Success for ALL Students―An in-depth, research-based guide for planning, implementing, and promoting inclusive practices in your school to support students with disabilities in general education classrooms.
- ASCD Webinar: Students with Disabilities: What Do I Do?―Teachers will gain a basic overview of IDEA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the expectations and intent of the laws, an understanding of their role in the process, and some tools to help them be strong members of a student’s special education or 504 team.
- Policy Priorities: Special Education After 40 Years: What Lies Ahead?―This issue previews what’s necessary to ensure increased expectations and better academic outcomes for students with disabilities.
- Podcast: The 7 Things General Ed Teachers Need to Know About Special Ed―On this episode of ASCD Learn Teach Lead Radio, Bateman and Cline discuss the basics every teacher needs to know about special education.
Making LGBTQ Students Safe in School
A few Senators asked questions concerning the safety of students in school and on campus, notably LGBTQ students and college women. ASCD believes the safety, physical well-being and emotional support of all students is an essential topic to discuss, and is one of the tenets of the Whole Child Approach to education. The following articles feature perspectives and guidance for supporting LGBTQ students in your school.
- Inservice: Why Include LGBTQ Students?―In this blog post, Peter DeWitt explains educators’ responsibility for making LGBTQ students feel safe and included.
- Educational Leadership: The Schools Transgender Students Need―Ellen Kahn, director of the Children, Youth, and Families Program at the Human Rights Campaign, gives guidance for creating safe, inclusive schools.
- Educational Leadership: More Than A Safe Space―Read about three schools that offer a lesson in how to take support for LGBTQ students to the next level.
- Educational Leadership: Respect, Resilience, and LGBT Students―Robert McGarry, director of education at the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Network (GLSEN) in New York, shares how schools can create environments that help LGBT students thrive.
- ASCD Express: In Sync with LGBT Families―Learn how to make sure the language and texts in your classroom send a welcoming message to all families.
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