December 12, 2012
Schools Prepare for $4 Billion Hit to Federal Funding
In three weeks, schools will plummet over the edge of the fiscal cliff unless Congress acts now.
Sequestration—deep, across-the-board cuts to nearly all federal spending—is a major component of the triple-threat fiscal cliff, which also includes the expiration of both the Bush-era tax cuts and the temporary payroll tax holiday.
The automatic cuts, which are set to take effect January 2, 2013, will slash federal education programs by 8.2 percent, or more than $4 billion. The consequences will be devastating for every state, district, and school across the United States, where already-lean education budgets have prompted teacher layoffs, swelling class sizes, shortened school days, narrowed curricula, and the disappearance of crucial after-school programming and wraparound services.
Tell Congress not to worsen the situation for the nation’s schools. Urge your federal lawmakers to stop sequestration and halt further education funding cuts before our nation’s students are forced to pay the price for Congress’s inaction and inability to compromise.
In addition, visit ASCD’s sequestration web page, which provides important information about this topic, including estimated cuts to specific education programs; a sequestration calculator to help you determine how much your state, district, or school stands to lose; and a countdown clock (top right) that shows exactly how much time is left before sequestration is triggered. Finally, share these resources with your colleagues and encourage them to tell their members of Congress to stop sequestration now.
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Let the Governing Begin
In his recent message to the 113th Congress, educator advocates, and the U.S. public, ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter calls on the nation’s lawmakers to cast aside their differences and fulfill their responsibility to the American people.
Carter suggests that Congress start by reauthorizing the now five-year overdue Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). He describes the nation’s main education law as an "impediment to reform," citing ESEA's outdated testing regimen, accountability measures, and teacher quality determinations, all of which fail to align with the widely adopted Common Core State Standards as well as recent state efforts to overhaul their teacher evaluation systems.
The Obama administration’s No Child Left Behind waivers have provided welcome, albeit temporary, relief from the most onerous provisions of the law but, as Carter notes, have led to a "haphazard patchwork of state progress" and have neutralized the administration's urgency for a longer-term, more comprehensive solution.
Recognizing that Congress will act only if constituents demand it, Carter prevails to educators to raise their voices and instill urgency in their elected representatives to reauthorize ESEA. The law must support, not hinder, state and local reform efforts and help educators in their mission to prepare students for college, career, and citizenship success.
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ASCD Shares Civic Learning Recommendations
ASCD recently sent feedback to the U.S. Department of Education on reinvigorating civic learning and engagement across the country. This feedback is a response to the department's call for suggestions on four provisions in its road map for advancing civic learning (PDF).
Research and test scores show that our students lack knowledge of the U.S. government system and their civic responsibilities, but many schools struggle to prioritize civic learning amid competing academic concerns. ASCD believes that civic learning is an essential component of a whole child approach to education that gives students a voice in a safe and supportive environment and ensures that they understand their opportunities in and obligations to their schools, their communities, and the nation.
The association’s recommendations include
- Encouraging states, districts, and schools to balance classroom instruction in history, government, economics, law, and democracy with out-of-class opportunities to participate in service-learning programs and civic engagement activities.
- Ensuring civic learning is recognized as a core academic subject within ESEA.
- Increasing opportunities for ongoing teacher professional development in civics.
- Encouraging states to adopt high standards in civic learning, with student assessments based on these standards that include portfolios and group projects.
- Supporting civic learning through federal competitive grant opportunities to fund innovation; research; and dissemination of model programs and best practices, especially for low-income schools and disadvantaged students.
- Requiring schools, districts, and communities to measure and report student and family engagement activities and outcomes (e.g., participation in after-school programming, community-based learning opportunities, and extracurricular activities; volunteer rates; and parent involvement data).
See the full recommendations (PDF).
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Register for ASCD's Legislative Conference Today!
Registration for ASCD's Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy closes on January 7, 2013. Register now to secure your spot at this premier education conference—to be held January 27–29, 2013, in the nation’s capital—and book your hotel room at the special conference rate before time runs out.
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