Superintedents’ Readiness for Common Core State Standards

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the professional organization that represents most district superintendents in the U.S., just released the results of a survey of 525 superintendents from 48 states regarding readiness for implementation of the of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), other rigorous state standards and new assessments.
http://aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/AASA_CCSS_Report.pdf

This is one of the few data-based analyses published on this question and there are a lot of good data here that make it worth reading. One of the things unique about this report is that it compares CCSS-adopting districts to non-CCSS-adopting districts. This is a very informative comparison. Both groups report that their states are implementing more rigorous standards. The non-CCSS states report higher levels of concern regarding funding and teacher preparation. Both groups report that the political debate has gotten in the way of their state’s implementation of higher standards. There is also strong commitment from both groups to stay the course of their particular state’s efforts.

The data set is also evenly split between districts using Smarter Balanced Assessment and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career. Even though almost half of the respondents report their districts as using assessment data in employee evaluations, this area is identified as the most problematic for the superintendents and concerns are identified regarding appropriate use, time for teachers to adjust instruction based on the new standards, and the appropriate procedures for incorporating these data into their evaluation processes.

Data are reported on the status of:

  • Adoption
  • Implementation
  • Assessments
  • State Support
  • Community Support

The study, in general, shows agreement among district superintendents that the standards are more rigorous and better aligned for college and career readiness. Most districts are moving ahead with implementation of either CCSS or some other form of more rigorous standards. They see both the opportunity and the challenge for implementation of more rigorous standards in high poverty districts, supporting the need for high standards to address equity issues, but also the need for the financial support for the instructional programs and services to accomplish this. The superintendents are also concerned about the lack of adequate funding for sustained professional development. They join several other national organizations suggesting that the standards be in place for several years before attaching high stakes decisions based on student performance. They suggest that school districts need additional time to fully implement them, especially more time for necessary professional development of staff.

Your comments are always welcome.

Pat Burk, Ph.D.
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

Reflections on Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka: 60 Years and Counting

 

The Brown Family, Topeka, 1954

The Brown Family, Topeka, 1954 clip from An American Legacy, Teaching Tolerance, Spring, 2004

 

Today, May 17, 2014, marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.  Many articles and historical memorials of this watershed event have appeared leading up to this anniversary. See examples at:

http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/living-up-to-the-promise-of-brown-v-board

http://www.nps.gov/brvb/index.htm

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/16/60-years-after-brown-v-board-michelle-obama-tells-topeka-students-that-are-its-legacy/

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/obama-honors-brown-v-board-education-ruling-article-1.1795681

In addition, many excellent resources appeared in 2004 for the 50th anniversary of this case. See the excellent piece by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Teaching Tolerance Magazine at:

http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-25-spring-2004/department/brown-v-board-american-legacy

The parents of Linda Carol Brown and Terry Lynn Brown refused to accept that their two daughters were made to walk past a nearby white school and cross a dangerous railroad yard to catch a bus to a black school several miles away.  Their courage and the courage of four other cases combined in the famous “Brown” decision that restored the protections of the 14th Amendment to the issue of where children go to school.

What is, perhaps, not as well known is that tomorrow, May 18, 2014, marks the 118th anniversary of the case that created the need for Brown in the first place, the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896.

In 1890, the Louisiana legislature passed the Separate Car Act that required blacks and whites to ride in separate cars on Louisiana railroads. A group of black, white and Creole residents in New Orleans formed the Comite’ des Citoyens (Committee of Citizens) to fight the law.  They prevailed upon Homer Adolph Plessy, a freeman, to engage in a deliberate act of civil disobedience by buying a ticket for a ride from New Orleans to Covington on the East Louisiana Railroad; and deliberately sitting in the “whites only” car and not in the “colored” car. Interestingly, the railroad company opposed the law as well because it was causing the company to purchase more railroad cars. The company was aware of and cooperated in the plan.  As Mr. Plessy was of mixed racial heritage, the railroad company was informed in advance that he was black. On June 7, 1892, Mr. Plessy took a seat in a “whites only” car. He was asked to change cars, and he refused.  According to the plan, the train was stopped; Mr. Plessy was arrested by a train detective and removed from the train.

To the challenges to the charges against Mr. Plessy, Judge John Howard Ferguson ruled that Louisiana had the right to regulate its railroads as long as it remained within the boundaries of the state. The Committee of Citizens then appealed, and lost, before the Louisiana Supreme Court; and the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896.  On May 18, 1896, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower court by ruling that Mr. Plessy had not been denied his right to ride on the train and had access to a railcar of comparable quality. Therefore, in the opinion of the court, Mr. Plessy’s 14th Amendment rights to equal protection had not been violated. In addition, the court held that separation of races was not necessarily the result of beliefs in superiority of one race over another, but, rather, an attempt to avoid discomfort of mixing people together who didn’t want to mix.

“So far, then, as a conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment is concerned, the case reduces itself to the question whether the statute of Louisiana is a reasonable regulation, and, with respect to this, there must necessarily be a large discretion on the part of the legislature.  In determining the question of reasonableness, it is at liberty to act with reference to the established usages, customs, and traditions of the people, and with a view to the promotion of their comfort and the preservation of the public peace and good order.” 163 U.S 537, Error to the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana, Supreme Court of the United States, Mr. Justice Brown delivering the opinion of the Court, May 18, 1896.

Thus, the principle of “separate but equal” public accommodations became the law of the land and applied to many elements of public life, including public education.  The Supreme Court’s position was, basically, that people should not be required to do things that make them uncomfortable.

For 58 years almost to the day, from May 18, 1896 to May 17, 1954, it was the established policy of the United States, upheld by the Supreme Court, that children of different races should attend separate schools. It was more comfortable that way. It took painstaking, deliberate legal strategy of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and their young lead attorney, Thurgood Marshall, to gradually build the legal precedents to challenge this.  Starting with the provision of access in the states to law schools for students of color, a series of victories in Cumming v. Richmond Board of Education, Missouri ex rel. Gains v Canada, Sipuel v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, Sweatt v. Painter and McLaurin v Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education  helped build the case for both equal access to all facilities and to the key provision that segregation into inferior institutions was not “equal;” and that such inferiority produced psychological damage and created negative self-image.

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court struck down the separate but equal interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Delivering the opinion of the court, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote:

“We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.”  Brown v. Board of Education, 347 US 483 (1954), Chief Justice Warren delivering the Opinion o f the Court.

However, the Brown decision only reversed the Plessy decision by striking down the legal principle of separate but equal facilities and public services.  It ordered no remedy.  States were stuck with the question of what to do about their schools if separate schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment.  The Supreme Court addressed this problem on May 31, 1955, in a second decision, known as Brown II, in which the Supreme Court remanded all school desegregation cases before the Court back to their respective lower courts requiring that states desegregate their schools “with all deliberate speed.”  This left open the question of when desegregation had to be in place, leaving the decisions up to the states to decide how and when these goals would be accomplished.  If progress was not made, the federal courts could rule on mandatory desegregation orders.  This set off many years of lower court cases and challenges to develop and implement desegregation plans that would eliminate segregated schools. Of course, this proved to be the source of significant conflict as states and local districts resisted desegregation orders, and sought approval for plans that did not adequately address racial balance.  Significant community differences surfaced around the country as some areas resolved desegregation issues on a voluntary basis, while others spent years in federal courts trying to reach agreements on mandatory plans and court orders.

Conflicts, at times violent, arose as some cities and communities aggressively resisted the expectation that children of different races would go to school together. We recall the “Little Rock Nine” being escorted by federal troops into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September, 1957. We recall Alabama Governor George Wallace’s infamous inaugural speech on January 14, 1963, where he passionately pledged, “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!”  Beginning in 1971, following the ruling in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education that the federal courts could include student busing as part of desegregation orders, desegregation plans increasingly included mandatory student busing to achieve desegregation goals. In 1974, the mandatory desegregation of South Boston and Roxbury High Schools led to violent confrontations, walk outs and an enrollment decline estimated by some at 40,000 from the Boston Public Schools.  By the 1980’s, busing plans had begun to decline and populations shifted with many families leaving cities for the suburbs or placing their children in private schools. Neighborhoods and neighborhood schools tended to reflect the segregated housing patterns that dominated most urban areas.  Clearly, the absence of a level of “comfort” in communities responding to the expectation that local communities desegregate their schools as a result of Brown had become an enormous barrier to the hope of Brown.

Strategies then shifted in the 1980s and 1990s to developing plans in which choice and incentives would lead to increased integration across neighborhood boundaries.  Magnet schools and special programs with a special curricular or an academic focus were made available.  Many of these programs worked well in the beginning, but, as funds and interest declined, so did their success.  Much of the uniqueness of these programs required considerable additional funding for specialized staff and program operations.  Economic pressures, declining enrollments, population shifts and other forces took a toll on these programs.  Districts continued to attempt to revise their desegregation plans, but public interest and enforcement by the courts had dissipated considerably.  The lack of community support for these plans and the changing demographics of communities made it harder and harder to sustain desegregation as a goal in communities. The public will was not there.

On June 28, 2007, the Supreme Court issued another landmark decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. The Court reviewed two voluntary desegregation plans, Seattle and Louisville, KY, that had been challenged. The Seattle school district was never subject to a mandatory desegregation order, but had voluntarily maintained a desegregated system through the use of voluntary transfers and schools of choice.  Students were classified as white and non-white and these categories were used to maintain balance and serve as “tiebreakers” in allocating students to programs in the district. The Seattle plan was challenged by parents whose white students were not able to get into desired schools because of the use of racial balance in the assignment of students.  Arguing that assigning students on the basis of race violated the 14th Amendment, they brought suit against the district. Both the Seattle Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district’s plan as meeting a compelling government interest in maintaining racially diverse schools.  However, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 split decision reversed the lower courts.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts took the very legal precedent established in the original Brown decision and used it to undo the Court’s commitment to desegregation.  Chief Justice Roberts wrote that assigning a student on the basis of race for desegregation purposes was no different than assigning a student on the basis of race in a “separate but equal” system.

“Before Brown, school children were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin.  The school districts in these cases have not carried the heavy burden of demonstrating that we should allow this once again, even for very different reasons.  For schools that never segregated on the basis of race, such as, Seattle, or that have removed the vestiges of past segregation, such as Jefferson County, the way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U.S., at 300-301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on a racial basis is to stop discriminating on a racial basis.” Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, Chief Justice Roberts presenting the Opinion of the Court.

Justice Breyer, writing the dissenting opinion joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg, argues that the majority opinion fails to make the case that the Seattle and Louisville plans fail the Equal Protection Clause.  First, the plans of Seattle and Louisville intentionally further, not impede, the goals of desegregation.  Second, the tradition of the court has always been to promote, not detract from, bringing people of different races together.  Third, the two plans address a compelling state interest in a narrow and focused manner. Fourth, the majority’s questioning of the use of race-conscious criteria will delay and impede the work of school districts to bring about racially diverse schools. In a moving conclusion, Justice Breyer questions what this decision will do to the “hope and promise of Brown.”  Calling the Brown decision “this Court’s finest hour,” he wrote that the decision meant that equal protection of the law for all races was more than words on paper, and brought the promises of the Constitution into the reality of how we actually live as a nation.  He warns of the loss of these principles.

And in light of those challenges, they have asked us not to take from their hands the instruments they have used to rid their schools of racial segregation, instruments that they believe are needed to overcome the problems of cities divided by race and poverty.  The plurality would decline their modest request.

The plurality is wrong to do so.  The last half-century has witnessed great strides toward racial equality, but we have not yet realized the promise of Brown.  To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown.   The plurality’s position, I fear, would break that promise.  This is a decision that the Court and the Nation will come to regret. Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 ET AL, Dissent opinion delivered by Justice Breyer joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg, Section VI, Conclusions.

We find ourselves today 118 years from the decision of the Supreme Court on May 18, 1896, still limiting racial equality as a nation “with reference to the established usages, customs , and traditions of the people, and with a view to the promotion of their comfort and the reservation of the public peace and good order.” (Plessy v. Ferguson)  The Brown decision happened 58 years after Plessy and 53 years before Parents v. Seattle. Now, today, 60 years after Brown, it seems more accurate to consider today as another step along a journey that began with the passage of the Reconstruction Amendments to the U.S. Constitution following the Civil War. Those amendments abolished slavery (13th); guaranteed equal protection and due process (14th) and provided the right to vote (15th).  But in Plessy the issue was not the law; but, rather, the level of comfort white people had with racial equality. It was about not wanting to sit next to a black person on the train. Brown resolved the legal issue of the applicability of the 14th Amendment to school desegregation, but it did not resolve the resistance to implementing it because we were uncomfortable as a nation and as local communities with sending our children to the same schools. In many ways, we still are.  And the Seattle decision ends up denying protections for equal accessibility to education choices because some of us are uncomfortable not getting everything we think we are entitled to.

Perhaps, then, the meaning of the 60th anniversary of the Brown decision is not a celebration of what was accomplished on May 17, 1954, but, rather, an awareness that we have not resolved the basic issue of racial equality from 118 years ago in Plessy. The Brown decision is actually a middle point of a series of events beginning with the end of the Civil War and continuing to today that center on whether we are comfortable, i.e., physically, socially, politically, economically, culturally comfortable with the idea of genuine racial and ethnic equality and full and equal participation for all in American life. We have to become comfortable with each other in far deeper ways than riding on the same railcar. We appear, instead, to be comfortable with racial and cultural discrepancies in education, income, employment, health, housing, and so on. This is to say, we do not appear to be prepared to eliminate these discrepancies; we accept them. Elimination will mean sharing full participation in all areas; sharing genuine economic and political power; sharing access to wealth and decision making; sharing access to opportunities; searching out and eliminating bias in our systems; and accepting that justice demands that we, as a society, are prepared to take action to recognize and reverse the effects of racism, classism and abuse of power that have characterized so much of our past.

 

Pat Burk, Ph.D.

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

Young Adults, Student Debt and Economic Well-Being

The link below is to a new study released today by the Pew Research Center on accumulated student debt and its economic impact. I attach a link to the full study. Some of the findings are very interesting.

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/05/14/young-adults-student-debt-and-economic-well-being/

  • College graduates have more student loan debt than non-college graduates.
  • College graduates have higher earnings than non-college graduates.
  • Higher student debt loads have a negative impact on overall net worth.
  • College graduates also have more accumulated debt loads in addition to student debt, and, as a result, lower net worth than non-college graduates.

The data suggest that college graduates, even though they have borrowed money to finish school, are able to get better paying jobs (the good news) which leads to additional, increased spending and, ironically, more accumulated debt (the bad news). College graduates with student loan debt are also more likely to have higher credit card debt, higher car payment debt and higher housing debt than either college graduates without student loan debt or non-college graduates. The debt load creates significant downward pressure on their net worth. This is contributing to less overall satisfaction.

Finding ways out of this “Catch 22″ is not part of this report. A logical implication is that continuing to raise college tuition and passing this on to students in the form of more borrowing to pay tuition may not be a very productive idea in terms of overall economic development. Lowering the need for accumulating student debt could have a significant economic upside since the increased spending of college graduates from higher paying jobs would not be off-set by the volume of loan debt they are carrying. It may well be in a state’s best interest to invest more in higher education (2 and 4 yr programs and Career and Technical Education programs) and lower overall student loan debt to allow the increased spending levels of college graduates to flow more directly into the economy and not into paying off student loans. Current trends appear to focus more on increasing enrollment, raising tuition and shifting to lower cost delivery models (online, etc.) to offset declines in state funding. Thus, the decline in funding causes revenue shortfalls that are passed onto students which adds more pressure for students to borrow in order to pay the bill for higher education. Alternatively, the Pew data suggests that the state is more likely to see positive economic returns and growth by helping students to lower their overall debt loads which will make completing higher education more likely for more students and, thus, produce a higher return to the state’s economy over time. The increase in earnings and spending that higher education affords will produce a higher rate of return to the state than will adding more to the students’ debt load.

Consider:

  • More investment in higher education to reduce pressure on tuition increases, i.e., increasing the share of cost for higher education to be born by the state.
  • More incentives for long term savings by families prior to high school graduation, e.g., higher guaranteed interest rates for college savings, more creative savings plans, employer sector investments, etc.
  • Guaranteed payment of state tuition for all students, e.g., current proposal to provide Community College tuition for all high school graduates in Oregon.
  • Lowering (not raising) interest rates for student loans to pay off loans quicker and foster other investments in the economy.
  • Continue to expand college credit bearing opportunities while in high school.

Your thoughts and feedback are most welcome.

Pat Burk

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

ST_2014.05.14_student-debt_complete-report.pdf

Demographics Signal Changing Education Landscape

The Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday released a very interesting study on the demographic changes ahead for higher education. The two major challenges to be faced are: 1) there are already considerably fewer 4-year-olds than 18-year-olds in the population signaling smaller numbers headed for higher education and 2) the numbers of white and African American students are declining while the numbers of Asian and Latino students are increasing significantly. The future for American colleges is forecasted to be smaller and much more diverse than it currently is. Here is the link:

http://chronicle.com/article/Demographic-Data-Let-Colleges/144101/

You will find at this link a very interesting search engine that lets you examine data on a state-by-state basis and a county-by-county basis. It contains downloadable files should you wish to capture some of their data.

The data point to issues that are, not only, relevant for higher education, but also for PK-12. The entire PK-20 system must adapt to these two fundamental changes, i.e., population growth will primarily be among ethnic and linguistically diverse populations and, over time, there will be fewer students overall. How our systems learn to adapt to the needs of diverse students is the core question ahead. Preparing education professionals and systems to successfully meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population in this changing landscape at all levels of the education enterprise is the defining challenge of our time.

Shooting the Messenger Doesn’t Kill the Message

A recent editorial in The Oregonian has repeated the biennial shooting of the messenger of the Quality Education Commission Report by creating the illusion that the public does not need to worry about the ongoing and chronic underfunding of Oregon education. (http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/12/a_reminder_of_the_value_of_per.html) Using terms like “fantasy,” “Mitty-worthy daydreaming,” “imaginary shortfall,” and “ritual self-flagellation,” the editorial repeats an all-too-common dismissive response to the constitutionally required analysis of Oregon education finances. Instead of benefiting from one of the few attempts to examine Oregon education funding in concrete terms, the editorial concludes that Oregonians should prepare for recent changes in the Public Employee Retirement System regulations to be overturned by the Oregon Supreme Court and should expect that improving upon the recent modest gains in school funding should be constrained by a Legislature “that looks first at ways to live within its means.”

What is the Quality Education Model?

The editorial perpetuates a common misunderstanding of what the Quality Education Model does. The QEM, from its beginning, was designed to do a few basic things. First, it created a method to look at the costs of common education services in a way that provides comparability across all districts in the state. Using the actual level of spending, it objectively looks at program costs in Oregon schools. It identifies characteristics of effective elementary, middle and high schools and establishes a projected cost of those items in Oregon. These calculations have been updated every two years since the first report was issued by the Legislative Council on the Oregon Quality Education Model in June, 1999. They are based on a “Common Chart of Accounts” in place in Oregon schools that provides common definitions for categories of expenditures. Imaginary? Hardly. At the core of the model are hard numbers of what Oregon districts actually spend on teachers, books, transportation, special education, technology, etc. The model, therefore, provides a set of choices and their costs for thinking about the kind of schools we want in our state.

What Does a Full Service School Cost in Oregon?

Second, it asks a very simple question: what would it cost to provide a full service school to every Oregon student based upon that current expenditure? Aspirational? Yes. But labeling it “fantasy” and “daydreaming” is no answer for the children and families who have something much less than full service in their schools. They may more likely refer to Oregon spending as “unfair,” “discriminatory” and “inadequate” for Oregon’s economic future. Is it fantasy that every child should have a reasonable class size, access to support and special services, a librarian, a music teacher, physical education? How are we to decide who receives these services and who does not? And what would it cost to provide those services? Some of them? All of them? Phase them in over time? These are all valid questions that can be answered using the QEM as a tool.

As the current report from the Joint Special Committee on Public Education Appropriation points out, there have been biennia where the funding “gap” between the full model and actual expenditure has been narrowed. In four consecutive years, for example, in the 2005-07 and 2007-09 biennia, the gap was narrowed. (See p. 14 of the Report: http://library.state.or.us/repository/2008/200812221407571/2013-2015.pdf) If all of the changes approved by the Legislature in the 2013 Session and in the Special Session survive, the gap is reduced from $3.04 billion to $1.90 billion. In other words, in 3 of the last 6 biennia, the gap between full funding of the QEM and actual funding levels has been narrowed. The QEM puts a stake in the ground for planning that, at least, helps us understand the fiscal difference between full service schools and what we currently have. It is up to us, citizens and legislators, to decide what we want for our children. Ritual self-flagellation? No. It demonstrates that progress is possible after over two decades of frustration from the passage of Ballot Measure 5 in 1990 to today. Citizens are tired of watching schools be stripped of the very services needed for student success.

There is good news and bad news here. The gap is, indeed, narrowed and there is reason for optimism that the Legislature could begin to string together several biennial budgets that restore some of the budget ground that has been lost. But the gap is still $1.9 billion. By continuing on a path of fiscal system reform coupled with strategic investment, we have already demonstrated that progress can be made.

Where Are the Most Strategic Investments?

Third, as a planning tool, it allows the legislature, school boards, citizens, administrators, and, even, editorial boards, to look at actual costs of individual areas of expenditure. We know, for example, that an area with huge upside return on investment for Oregon students and taxpayers is full day kindergarten. What would it cost to provide this in Oregon schools?

And what of increasing class sizes and declining numbers of teachers? An analysis from a recent New York Times article reported that Oregon has the sixth highest rate of loss of education personnel per 100 students in the country. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/22/education/subtract-teachers-add-pupils-math-of-todays-jammed-schools.html) According to the Oregon Statewide Report Card, 2012-13, the total number of teachers in Oregon districts and ESDs declined from 31,659 (2008-09) to 28,065 (2012-13). Over the same period of time, the student enrollment increased to 563,714 after 4 consecutive years of decline. The student population also continues to become more diverse with increasing ethnic/racial diversity (35.3% of students), language diversity (55,402 English Learners), and students with special needs (13.3% in special education and 7.11% in Talented and Gifted programs). See Oregon Statewide Report Card (http://www.ode.state.or.us/data/annreportcard/rptcard2013.pdf). Fewer teachers attempting to meet the needs of larger and more diverse classes has become the norm in Oregon schools; but this information is known primarily to parents and staff. Since The Oregonian has reported on these issues in the past, it is reasonable to assume that its editors are also aware.

Moving Forward

If we are to find workable pathways for improved success, it is important to know where to invest, what to invest in and what the cost of investment will be. The QEM provides the tools for answering questions like this. Individual elements of the model are based on actual Oregon school district expenditures. The most practical and informative use of the model is to look at program costs in current dollars. This adds specificity and reality to school financial deliberations. Those disappearing programs and larger class sizes are real in Oregon. There is no pretending here.

The editorial correctly raises a critical issue, i.e., there is no guarantee that even the recent modest increases in funding will survive legal scrutiny. The changes in the PERS system face a review by the Oregon Supreme Court. And the additional $100 million approved in the Special Session does not impact current budgets and only goes into effect in 2014-15. These factors could place significant downward pressure on school budgets. Instead of looking at the 2015 session as a chance to continue modest rebuilding, we will be back to trying to salvage whatever we can of current expenditure.

It is misleading to citizens to suggest that solid fiscal planning is fantasy. In fact, more than ever, we need concrete information on what kind of educational system we want for our children and what that system will cost. The real fantasy is believing that shooting the messenger makes the message go away.

Enriching Literacy Instruction

Enriching literacy instruction is a central issue in responding to the coming implementation of the Common Core State Standards and, as we saw recently, responding to international comparisons, such as, the results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Student outcomes that reflect the heightened "college and career ready" expectations that characterize current policy discussions will require rigorous and effective approaches to literacy for all students.

The NW Regional Conference of the National Council of Teachers of English will be held in Portland on March 1-3, 2014, at the Downtown Marriott Waterfront. The conference is part of the Oregon Council of Teachers of English centennial celebration and will bring teachers from eight NW states and British Columbia to Portland. The program features 180 speakers from 22 states and Canada, including more than 20 with ties to the Graduate School of Education and Portland State University. It is co-sponsored by the Oregon Council for the Social Studies, Oregon Association of School Libraries, Rethinking Schools, National Writing Project, Portland Reading Council, as well as by affiliates in other states.

This is a great opportunity to learn from some of the best regional and national resources engaged in enriched literacy programs that address the needs of increasingly diverse learners in schools targeting higher outcome expectations.

There is a lot more information on the attached flyer.

NCTE regional conf flyer 1.pdf

How do we open doors for English learners? Interactive Webinar Opportunity

How Do We Open Doors for English Learners?

Join a free, interactive webinar on December 12th with PSU Graduate School of Education faculty member Julie Esparza-Brown on this topic.

How do we open doors for English learners? Interactive Webinar Opportunity

How can we provide high-quality, research-based instruction and interventions to support the growing English language learner population?

On December 12, Drs. Claudia Rinaldi and Julie Esparza-Brown will present research-based examples of preventive assessment measures, collaboration structures, data-informed problem solving, and instruction and intervention planning and delivery to support ELLs.

This interactive webinar by REL Northeast and Islands at Education Development Center, Inc., will be particularly helpful for district-level English language educators, special education teachers, and response to intervention (RTI) directors and coordinators. Sign up today!

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