TAKE ACTION: Preserve the Charitable Deduction
Contact members of Congress and the President and urge them not to limit the charitable deduction in the lame duck session and to avoid deficit reduction and tax reform solutions that would increase poverty and widen income inequality.
Contact information for Congress and the President is available.
Background: Recent reports suggest that modifications or limitations to the income tax charitable deduction might be under consideration as a revenue source to offset the deficit or the cost of another legislative priority during the lame duck session.
Potential changes to incentives for charitable giving in the tax code have been an ongoing part of deficit reduction and tax reform discussions, including a proposal offered by President Obama that would cap the charitable deduction at 28 percent for high-income taxpayers.
The charitable deduction is an important and effective incentive for giving, and strengthens the nonprofit and philanthropic sector’s capacity to meet the needs of our communities.
As non profits continue to see increasing demand for programs and services, our elected officials should support policies that encourage all Americans to give more to charitable organizations and protect the most vulnerable in our society.
129th Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate will hold sessions and committee hearings this week.
The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, will meet on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:00 PM and Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 5:00 PM in hearing room 313. The committee will continue to discuss Sub. HB555 (Stebelton) Accountability-New Report Cards and HB462 (Pelanda) Student Transfers. A vote on HB555 is possible.
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, will meet on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM in hearing room 110. The committee will receive testimony on HB543 (Anielski) Suicide Awareness Training.
The Senate Government Oversight & Reform Committee, chaired by Senator Coley, will meet on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 9:30 AM in the South Hearing room. Pending referral, the committee will receive sponsor testimony on SB391 (Niehaus) Ethics Laws, a proposal by Senate President Niehaus to modernize Ohio’s ethics laws. The bill would require the Ohio Ethics Commission to publish the financial disclosure forms of public officials online and would update the reporting requirements for lobbyists.
130th General Assembly: Last week House Democrats elected their leadership team for the 130th Ohio General Assembly. Democrats re-elected Representatives Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) as Minority Leader; Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon), Assistant Minority Leader; Tracy Heard Minority Whip; and Debbie Phillips as Assistant Minority Whip.
How Well Are SIGs Working? The U.S. Department of Education released on November 19, 2012 a report entitled Snapshot of School Improvement Grants Data, which includes preliminary information about student achievement at schools that have received federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program funds.
According to the press release, the Obama administration has invested over $4.5 billion since 2009 in 1300 low performing schools through the SIG program. Schools participating in SIG agreed to initiate one of the following four school reform strategies:
- Turnaround model: The Local Education Agency (LEA) replaces the principal and rehires no more than 50 percent of the staff; gives greater principal autonomy; implements other prescribed and recommended strategies.
- Restart model: The LEA converts or closes and reopens a school under a charter school operator, charter management organization, or education management organization.
- School closure: The LEA closes the school and enrolls the students in other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving.
- Transformation model: The LEA replaces the principal (except in specified situations); implements a rigorous staff evaluation and development system; institutes comprehensive instructional reform; increases learning time and applies community-oriented school strategies; and provides greater operational flexibility and support for the school.
This report includes data about the first cohort of schools (730 out of 831 SIG awarded TierI/II schools) after one year of implementing SIG in the 2009-2010 to the 2010-2011 school years. The data shows positive momentum and progress in many SIG schools, but student achievement in one third of the participating schools actually declined. The report notes the following results:
- Two thirds of schools showed gains in math and two thirds of schools showed gains in reading.
- A larger percentage of elementary schools showed gains than did secondary schools, suggesting that it is easier to improve student performance at a young age than to intervene later.
- Seventy percent of elementary schools showed gains in math, and seventy percent showed gains in reading, a higher percentage of improving schools than was found in middle or high schools.
- Some of the greatest gains have been in small towns and rural communities.
The Institute for Education Sciences is conducting a long-term evaluation of the SIG program using student-level longitudinal data. The evaluation will also compare SIG schools to similarly situated schools that did not receive SIG funds.
The snapshot is available.
What’s Next for the 113th Congress: An article in the Washington Post on November 9, 2012 reviews some of the challenges facing public education and possible items on the Obama administration’s education agenda for the next four years. (Obama’s education agenda may look less like real reform and more like tying up loose ends by the Associate Press, Washington Post, November 9, 2012)
According to the article, there will be little change in the education policy gridlock among the Obama Administration, the Democrat-leaning Senate, and the Republican-dominated House, since the control of the Presidency, House, and Senate remain pretty much the same after the November 2012 election. Arne Duncan is expected to stay-on as Secretary of Education, and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative John Kline (R-MN) are expected to remain chairs of the Senate and House education committees.
Lawmakers have already returned to Washington, D.C. for a lame duck session to work-out a solution to avoid the budget cuts and tax increases that will begin in January 2013 as a result of the expiration of certain tax laws and the implementation of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Failure to resolve the “fiscal cliff” could lead to significant cuts in federal education programs in 2013, which would mean more financial trouble for local schools.
The 113th Congress will also need to address several major education-related laws that are due for re-authorization this session, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Career and Technical Education Act, and the Higher Education Act. Key among the laws that need to be reauthorized is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind), now five-years overdue. The legislative impasse stalling the ESEA reauthorization has led the Obama Administration to initiate a controversial process and grant 34 states and the District of Columbia waivers from the most cumbersome provisions of the law including Adequate Yearly progress. In return for the waiver, states had to implement their own reforms for college and career readiness, school improvement, and teacher effectiveness.
As some lawmakers publicly support efforts to reauthorize ESEA, including Education Committee chair, Senator Tom Harkin, the article notes that President Obama is not waiting for Congressional action, but is moving forward with his own education agenda. This includes fine-tuning current initiatives such as teacher preparation programs, principal preparation and evaluation, early childhood education; making higher education more affordable; and leveraging federal funds to improve education at the state and local levels.
The effectiveness of the President’s education initiatives will be the focus of the U.S. House as Congress and the President also have to work-out another budget extension in 2013. The current agreement to fund federal programs in FY13 expires in March 2013. Many lawmakers disagree with the federal government’s expanded role in education, including the competitive process the Obama administration has established for funding federal grants and support for the Common Core Standards and new assessments. Lawmakers will be scrutinizing how well school improvement strategies supported by the Administration are increasing student achievement, at the same time new rigorous standards and graduation requirements will be taking effect in most states.
The article is available.
Study About Head Start Available: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, headed by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, released in August 2012 a report entitled Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation. The report was prepared by a panel of experts who were asked to advise the agency on how to improve the effectiveness of the federal Head Start and Early Start programs, which cost almost $8 billion a year to operate.
According to the report, “…..Head Start has a powerful legacy of innovation, and a strong identity as a nationwide program with uniform performance standards and significant cumulative impact on the early childhood field due to its accomplishments, scale, and reach into every state and most local communities. These attributes equip Head Start well to respond to new challenges and opportunities present in today’s policy context for early childhood programs.”
After a review of previous studies and evaluations of Head Start, the panel developed the following findings:
- Compared to care at home by families and in the other early care and education settings available in communities experienced by control group members at the time of the evaluations, both Head Start and Early Head Start result in statistically significant short-term (by end of program) improvements in children’s functioning in important areas of cognitive-academic development, social-emotional development, approaches to learning, and health as well as improvements in parenting and-for Early Head Start-in some parent self-sufficiency outcomes.
- These impacts are in line with the magnitude of findings from other scaled-up programs. Larger impacts may be possible, e.g., by increasing dosage in Early Head Start and Head Start or improving instructional factors in Head Start.
- Impacts do not persist into elementary school, but the literature suggests there could still be longer-term effects. The Committee notes that some early childhood interventions showed impacts into adulthood although impacts faded in childhood, and describes non-experimental studies showing impacts of Head Start in adulthood. The Committee notes that the role of elementary school quality in supporting gains from intervention programs is not well understood.
- Certain subgroups have stronger short-term impacts and persisting positive effects. Depending on the outcome domains assessed, some important and substantial impacts persisted for the lowest-academically performing Head Start children, and for African American children both in Head Start and in Early Head Start. In Early Head Start there was also evidence of some sustained effects for Whites and for children and families who enrolled in Early Head Start home visiting models.
The panel of experts believe that Head Start should be focused on outcomes, guided by research and data, support collective ownership of results for children and families, and support innovative strategies to reach its goals in a variety of locally individualized ways. The report includes the following recommendations:
- Using data to improve school readiness and other key outcomes.
- Strengthen Head Start as a learning organization that: (1) is characterized by a commitment to using data for continuous improvement to further strengthen outcomes; (2) develops appropriate assessments and helps programs use their results to guide practice; and (3) integrates and aligns all practices, policies, and supports toward achieving these outcomes within local programs, across federal components of the program, and from federal to local levels.
- Using evidence-based practices.
- Implement the strongest and most current evidence-based practices that either: (1) benefit all children; or (2) are tailored for population subgroups. Continue to develop and test new refinements, particularly for specific subgroups, thereby further building the evidence.
- Improving the coordination of services from prenatal to age 8.
- Improve alignment and linkages between Head Start and other early childhood standards, child assessments, program monitoring, data, professional development, and technical assistance initiatives, including efforts to include Head Start children in state data systems. Steps toward improved alignment may include federal collaboration with states as well as federal encouragement for Head Start programs to collaborate with states.
The report is available.
After School Programs Recognized: First Lady Michelle Obama presented on November 19, 2012 the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards to 12 after-school programs. The awards include $10,000 in federal grants. The awards are administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, First Lady Michelle Obama honorary chair. The following programs received awards this year:
- African Culture & History through traditional dance and music (Omaha, NE) African Cultural Connection (ACC) provides youth throughout the state of Nebraska with year-round residencies and workshops that focus on traditional African art forms. By engaging students in activities such as drumming, dancing, storytelling, jewelry making, and textile design, the program presents an in-depth perspective on the culture and history of Africa, particularly that of West Africa.
- Arts Education Program for Youth (Seattle, WA) Arts Corps was founded in 2000 as a strategy to bring out-of-school arts and creative engagement to low-income communities. A multidisciplinary program, Arts Corps partners with a wide range of community organizations and agencies to bring after-school arts classes to 2,000 K-12th grade students every year, at over 30 sites throughout Seattle. Professional teaching artists are placed at partner sites to lead classes in dance, digital media, music, spoken word, theatre, and visual arts.
- AS220 Youth Studio (Providence, RI) AS220 Youth is a free arts education program serving young people ages 14-21, with a special focus on those in the care and custody of the state. AS220 serves over 450 Rhode Island youth in three separate sites – the Rhode Island Training School (RITS), Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program (UCAP) – a nationally recognized Rhode Island public middle school dedicated to keeping at-risk kids in school, and AS220’s downtown Providence studio. The program goal is to engage youth in a creative process that will lead to positive social, educational, and vocational outcomes.
- ICA Out-of-School Teen Programs (Boston, MA) Out-of-school programs for teens at the ICA provide young people with the opportunity to engage with art, artists, and the creative process, while also developing confidence and transferable skills. Out-of-school programs for teens utilize the ICA’s physical and artistic resources, including contemporary art and artists, to address a wide range of topics such as personal identity, social change, and innovation.
- Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (San Fernando, CA) Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP) brings together Grammy award-winning mariachi music masters Mariachi Los Camperos, led by Natividad Cano, with primarily Mexican middle and high-school students in intensive instructional experiences that preserve the genre of mariachi music.
- Myth and the Hero (Copley, OH) Myth and the Hero is a humanities-based program that supports the development of African-American adolescent males through the telling, discussion, and interpretation of mythology and fairy tales told to the beat of an African drum. The program offers weekly support groups that utilize the analysis of mythological stories and fairy tales to explore themes that are relevant to the lives of the participants, such as sacrifice, conflict resolution, perseverance, humility, and confidence
- New York City Urban Debate League (Bronx, NY) The New York City Urban Debate League (NYCUDL) program is dedicated to giving all students the opportunity to become highly-skilled debaters. Since the program’s inception, the NYCUDL has partnered with schools across New York City, particularly Title I public schools, to build successful debate teams. This network of over ten schools offers an array of workshops held after school, on Saturdays, and during the summer. Each workshop immerses the participants in a number of subjects including public speaking, research techniques, philosophy, public policy, civics, international affairs, law, and ethnic studies.
- Out of School Programs (Bronx, NY) DreamYard’s Out of School Programs (OSP) offer South Bronx teens after-school, Saturdays and summer opportunities. Led by professional teaching artists, OSP participants and teaching artists collaborate in rigorous art-making experiences that hone artistic craft, inspire imagination, and promote social consciousness. DreamYard invests a great deal of time and resources in providing professional development to its teaching artists to ensure high-quality arts teaching practices and deep impact for the students. 100% of OSP participants graduate from high school and attend college.
- Paso Nuevo/Next Step (Washington, DC) Paso Nuevo is a year-round after-school performance workshop for Latino and multicultural youth, ages 12- 18. While incorporating aspects of acting techniques (including voice and movement), the program focuses on individual creative expression and performance in a safe, collaborative environment. Paso Nuevo uses theatre arts as a vehicle for enhancing self-esteem, developing language and communication skills, strengthening cultural identity, and promoting literacy in both English and Spanish. RISE! (Rhythm in Setting Expectations) (Norfolk, VA) RISE! (Rhythm in Setting Expectations) is a multidisciplinary program that provides underserved youth, ages 7-17, with year-round arts-based workshops. The program is housed in the historic Attucks Theatre, a 30,000 square foot facility, which is the oldest theatre in the country that was constructed, owned, and operated by African Americans and considered to be a national landmark.
- Student Historians High-School Internship Program (New York, NY) The New-York Historical Society’s (N-YHS) Student Historian Internship Program offers high school students access to over four centuries of art, documents, and artifacts in New York’s oldest museum. In response to the growing need to make history matter for young audiences, the Student Historian High School Internship Program was launched in 2005. The program is called Student Historian Program because students take on the role of real historians, researching, analyzing, and interpreting the past.
- Youth Radio (Oakland, CA) Youth Radio is a Peabody Award-winning youth media organization that provides free, intensive training in media arts and journalism to underserved youth, ages 14-18. Upon completing six months of intensive media training, participants are able to work as interns on a diverse range of arts and humanities programs at Youth Radio that cover areas such as arts and culture, a spoken word showcase, eclectic/urban music, and current events.
Information about the awards program is available.
Panel Discusses Teacher Evaluations: The ASCD November 2012 Whole Child Podcast, hosted by Molly McCloskey, featured a panel discussion on fair and effective teacher evaluations. Included on the panel were National Association for Music Education’s Mike Blakeslee, McREL’s Bryan Goodwin, and Superintendent and Educational Leadership contributor Cindy Weber. The panelists discussed the purpose of teacher evaluations and how they can be more effective when they are based on multiple measures, such as observations, peer reviews, parental or student input, and an analysis of agreed-upon student learning evidence, and not solely based on student achievement.
ASCD’s Whole Child Podcast: Changing the Conversation About Education, seeks to inform and engage educators, parents, and community members about what works in today’s schools. Guests include educational leaders, practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and students from around the globe who share their insights about sound education policies and practices that ensure that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. New podcasts are available the first Thursday of the month. Podcasts are archived from 2008.
The Podcast is available.
Information about other Whole Child Podcasts is available.
Technology to Support Music Instruction: A November 15, 2012 article in Forbes entitled The Musician’s OS: Tech for Music Education, Lori Kozlowski contributor, describes the work of Matt Sandler, musician, former music teacher, and co-founder of Chromatik, a music technology company that focuses on education.
The company recently launched its free platform (Chromatik) on iPad and the Web. Chromatik allows musicians to upload, record, annotate, and share music with Chromatik’s web and laptop, desktop, iPad, or cell phone.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is just one of several school districts that are using Chromatik to support music instruction and help music teachers provide more individualized support for students. In addition, some educators see Chromatik and other similar technologies as a way to measure student achievement of student learning objectives in music, now required as part of teacher evaluations in many states.
The article is available.
Information about Chromatik is available.
Students Overcome the Odds to Graduate: An article in the Cincinnati Enquirer on November 22, 2012 recognizes the number of school districts that are graduating students with disabilities in the greater Cincinnati area, and describes how the artistic talents of Withrow University High School senior Brandon Camp have helped him achieve success even as he copes with autism. (We’re great at providing for special needs kids. Even so, we have difficulties helping them pass state tests by Denise Smith Amos, Cincinnati Enquirer, November 22, 2012)
According to the article, nine Southwest Ohio school districts graduated 100 percent of students with special needs in the 2009-10 school year, outpacing school districts in other parts of Ohio. Many of these special needs students have special talents and abilities that could lead to careers after graduation, so schools must develop education and career plans for these students to ensure that their abilities are developed.
Brandon Camp has difficulty communicating and reads at a third grade level, but he excels at art, especially abstract expressionism. His teachers are working with his parents to develop a career plan that includes training and job shadowing after graduation to help him find a career that utilizes his talents.
The article is available.