Arts Online Education Update 06.17.2014

Ohio News

130th Ohio General Assembly: No committees of the House or Senate are scheduled to meet this week.

Legislative Update

Governor Kasich signed into law last week the following bills:
-HB362 (Derickson-Scherer) STEM/Teacher Evaluations
-HB85 (Terhar-Gonzales) Homestead Exemption for Veterans with Disabilities
-HB171 (McClain-Patmon) Credit for Release-Time Religious Instruction
-HB264 (Wachtmann/Barnes) Care of Diabetic Students in Schools

The main mid biennium review budgets, HB487 (Brennan) MBR Education and HB483 (Amstutz) MBR Operations, have been sent to the governor and await his signature.

State Board of Education Gains/Loses Members:  Darryl Mehaffie, an at-large member of the State Board of Education, resigned on June 6, 2014 after serving on the board for 18 months. Governor Kasich lost no time replacing him, and appointed Cathye Flory to the board on June 11, 2014.

Cathye Flory of Logan served on the Logan Hocking Board of Education for 12 years and on the Tri-County Career Center Board for 10 years.

The State Board includes 11 elected members and 8 appointed at-large members.  The terms are four years and staggered. The board is still down one member, due to the resignation in December 2013 of Jeff Mims, an elected member representing the 3rd State Board District.

Governor Kasich has appointed thirteen members to the board since taking office in 2011. His appointments include replacing two elected members, Jeff Hardin (who passed away) and Bryan Williams (who resigned), and appointing 11 “at-large” members, including Tess Elshoff, Joe Farmer, C. Todd Jones, Dr. Mark Smith, Cathye Flory, Darryl Mehaffie (who just resigned), Dennis Shelton (who resigned), Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings, Angela Thi Bennett (who resigned), Melanie Bolender, and Stanley Jackson (who was not reappointed).

New Resources on the ODE Website:  The Ohio Department of Education has posted on its website two documents that summarize provisions included in two bills recently approved by the General Assembly, HB487 and HB483.

-The “Highlights of the 2014 Mid-Biennium Review”
-A document summarizing new state graduation requirements

 National News

FY15 Appropriations Bill Approved in Senate Subcommittee:  The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin, approved on June 10, 2014 a FY15 Appropriations Bill.  The bill includes over $156 billion in discretionary budget authority (the same amount as FY14) for a wide-range of federal programs, including preschool and K-12 education programs. The increases in a number of programs are offset by decreases in current programs.

The bill sets as priorities for funding early childhood care and education, and includes increases for Head Start, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Preschool Development Grants, and IDEA Grants for Infants and Families.

The bill also increases funding for Title 1 grants to local education agencies for low-income students; Striving Readers; and TRIO for first generation college students.

The bill was expected to move to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration, but might be folded into an omnibus bill.

Gates Foundation Supports Delay in Accountability Consequences:  Vicki Phillips, Director of Education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, issued on June 10, 2014 a letter to partners saying that “…assessment results should not be taken into account in high-stakes decisions on teacher evaluation or student promotion for the next two years.” The letter notes that new teacher evaluation systems adopted by states cannot work unless teachers believe that they are fair and reliable. Providing additional time for teachers to get familiar with the tests, offer their feedback, and see how students perform is “an important part of the process of arriving at fair and reliable tests.”

See “A Letter to our Partners:  Let’s Give Students and Teachers Time” by Vicki Phillips

More States Delay Common Core Consequences: Andrew Ujifusa reports for Education Week that several states, including Ohio, are delaying the consequences imposed by their accountability systems for schools and teachers as they implement new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and aligned assessments. The delay has implications for the accountability provisions required as part of the federal waivers of the No Child Left Behind Act as well.

According to the article lawmakers in Florida, Colorado, New Jersey, Ohio, Louisiana, and Mississippi have approved changes that will impact consequences for low performing schools, teacher evaluations, and student grades in state K-12 accountability systems for the coming school year.

In Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio, and New Jersey, for example, lawmakers have given school districts more flexibility about using value added data in teacher evaluations. School districts in Colorado can decide how much student growth is factored into teacher evaluations, or not use it at all.

In Florida lawmakers approved a law that removed at-risk students from the graduation rate and delayed the requirement that schools rated “F” for two years in a row implement a turn-around plan.

Some states, for example Mississippi, are letting school districts keep the same accountability ratings for two years, and will use scores in 2015 as the starting point for new accountability systems based on the new standards and assessments.

The author also writes that the U.S. Department of Education has signaled a willingness to provide more flexibility to states regarding the accountability consequences promised in their No Child Left Behind waiver requests, and is extending NCLB waivers for some states.

See “Teacher, School Accountability Systems Shaken Up States move to delay, alter test-based rating systems, including ‘A-F’ approaches rolled out in recent years” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week, June 10, 2014 at

Judge Issues Vergara v. California Decision
The decision, Vergara v. California, Los Angles County Superior Court, is available at http://studentsmatter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Tenative-Decision.pdf

California Judge Rules Teacher Dismissal and Tenure Rules Unconstitutional:  Stephen Sawchuk reports for Education Week’s Teacher Beat Blog that a tentative decision in the high profile Vergara v. California case in Los Angeles was issued on June 10, 2014 by Judge Rolf Treu of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The decision declares five sections of state law unconstitutional, including the two-year review process that determines continuing employment for teachers; the due process procedures for dismissing teachers; and the use of seniority in layoff decisions. According to the decision, these policies disproportionately expose minority and disadvantaged students to “ineffective teachers”, in violation of the California Constitution’s equal protection clause.

The lawsuit was filed by Students Matter, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and millionaire David Welch, on behalf of nine students in the Los Angeles City School Districts. Others, including Michelle Rhee of Students First, Parent Revolution Executive Director Ben Austin, and billionaire Eli Broad, are also supporters of the lawsuit.

The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers intervened in the case on the side of the defendant, the State of California.

The article explains that the plaintiffs argued, and the judge agreed, that California’s teacher tenure laws resulted in the assignment of ineffective teachers to teach minority and disadvantaged students to their detriment. The defendants, including the California Teachers Association, argued that the tenure laws have little impact on the quality of teachers in a particular school, because “well-managed” schools had no problem dismissing poor teachers.

Judge Treu also accepted the plaintiffs’ views regarding the efficacy of the controversial “value added” methodology to identify good teachers, and the negative impact of a teacher with a low value-added score on student achievement.

In the Education Week article, Stephen Sawchuk notes that 16 states have moved to tie teacher employment to evaluations using “value added” scores, and that Florida and Kansas have eliminated either the continuing employment or due process associated with tenure. However, a court in North Carolina recently declared unconstitutional a recent law passed there outlawing continuing contracts for teachers.

The article also raises questions about the unintended consequences of the decision, which cites the “disparate impact” of the California teacher tenure and dismissal laws on minority and disadvantaged students as a reason for judging them unconstitutional.
Judge Treu bases his decision on three important court decisions involving equality of opportunity, Brown v Board of Education, Serrano v. Priest, and Butt v. California.  But, whereas these decisions use the “fundamentally below” the prevailing statewide standard to determine constitutionality, Judge Treu applies a different standard of proof, and says that the challenged teacher laws impose a “real and appreciable impact” on the fundamental right of students to a quality education.

The article quotes Joshua Dunn, an associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, regarding the new level of proof used in the decision.  He says,  “Should California’s courts accept the group’s legal rationale, which hinges on disparate-impact analysis, the floodgates could open for litigation calling for even greater judicial control over California’s schools.”
Stephen Sawchuk also points out that the 16-page decision offers some ways for the California legislature to repair the challenged laws and align teacher employment and dismissal laws with national trends.

The Vergara decision is expected to be appealed by the California Teachers Association.
See “State Judge Strikes Down California’s Laws on Teacher Tenure, Dismissal” By Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week, June 10, 2014 at

For Another View on Vergara:  Kevin Welner writes for Valerie Strauss’ Answer Sheet Blog for the Washington Post on June 12, 2014 that Judge Treu’s decision in Vergara poses some interesting questions for an appellate court to consider.
Kevin Welner is the director of the National Education Policy Center, an attorney, and a professor of education policy at the University of Colorado Boulder.

He explains that the Vergara decision relies on an important 1992 California Supreme Court decision called Thomas K. Butt v. State of California, but not exactly.  He wonders if an appellate court will be “…willing to join Judge Treu in moving away from the standard requiring plaintiffs to show that a law results in schooling that, when viewed as a whole, falls “fundamentally below prevailing statewide standards” to one where plaintiffs need only show that the law results in a “real and appreciable impact” on students’ fundamental right to equality of education?”

Professor Welner also questions the “poor evidentiary record” included in the decision.  He writes, “Other judges would have certainly resisted, for example, reaching a finding that a specific statute can or should be identified as having caused “grossly ineffective” teachers to be in the classroom. While it is easy to see how any one of these rules could result in an inferior teacher in a given instance being employed, it’s much harder to see causal proof that the effect of the statute, “viewed as a whole,” would result in more such teachers.”

He goes on to say, “If the relatively anemic facts and evidentiary record in Vergara support the striking down of five state statutes, it’s almost mind-boggling what the future may hold for education rights litigation in California (again, if the appellate courts use similar reasoning).”

See “The Answer Sheet: A Silver Lining in the Vergara Decision?” by Valerie Strauss and Kevin Welner, The Answer Sheet, The Washington Post, June 12, 2014 at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/06/11/a-silver-lining-in-the-vergara-decision/

 FYI ARTS

Congratulations Donna!  Donna Collins was presented the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award at the annual Americans for the Arts Convention on June 13, 2014 in Nashville.  Americans for the Arts president Robert Lynch and chair of the board of directors, Abel Lopez, presented Donna with the award, which recognizes individuals who have exerted a positive influence on the political landscape of a state in support of the arts, arts organizations, artists, and the creative economy.

A video of the presentation is available at http://convention.artsusa.org/.  Donna receives the award at 27 minutes 32 seconds into the plenary session of the convention.

Senate Approves NEA Chair:  The U.S. Senate approved on June 12, 2014 Dr. Jane Chu as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The appointment comes almost a year and a half after the retirement of former chair Rocco Landesman.
President Obama nominated Dr. Jane Chu in February 2014.  She was president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.

Bob Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, issued a statement about the appointment, saying that, “Dr. Chu brings an insightful combination of expertise to the position-experience in arts education, business administration, and philanthropy. She also understands the value of art at the community level and how the arts are transformative to individuals as well as places.”

The Role of the Arts in Schools:  Last week Larry Ferlazzo, writing for Education Week’s “Classroom Q and A” Blog, asked the question, “What role should arts education have in a school’s curriculum?”

According to the blog the question raised a lot of interest and responses from teachers, parents, students, artists, and arts educators. Larry Ferlazzo highlights three responses from Virginia McEnerney, David Booth, and Healther Wolpert-Gawron:
Virginia McEnerney, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, writes, that arts education is not just for those who “aspire to be professional artists or writers, but “should play an essential role in affirming and developing creative abilities among students of all skill levels.

“If young people have an inherent pull to create, which we believe, then the arts must be integral to students’ education, rather than viewed as separate.”

David Booth, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, talks in his response about the importance of the arts in helping students “grow as whole beings”.

That is the real role of the arts in school–to help youngsters construct their worlds in wonderful and meaningful ways and, at the same time, gain satisfaction from their expanded understanding of how to accomplish this lifelong process.”

Heather Wolpert-Gawron, a middle school teacher and author, writes that the arts are an important way to communicate.

“Incorporating the arts into your curriculum is about developing kids that are well rounded, that are exposed to things other than simply the CORE subjects.  Think about our innovators, or simply about those people in your life you respect the most.  They have elements about them that are diversified.”

The blog also includes a link to a related website, The Best Resources Discussing The Importance of Art in Education, which includes videos and other resources about arts education.

See “Response: The Role of Arts in Schools, by Larry Ferlazzo, Education Week “Classroom Q and A” on June 11, 2014.

 


This update is written weekly by Joan Platz, Research and Knowledge Director for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.  The purpose of the update is to keep arts education advocates informed about issues dealing with the arts, education, policy, research, and opportunities.  The distribution of this information is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, Ohio Educational Theatre Association, OhioDance, and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.

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About OAAE

Since our founding in 1974, by Dr. Dick Shoup and Jerry Tollifson, our mission has always been to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Working at the local, state, and federal levels through the efforts of a highly qualified and elected Board of Directors, our members, and a professional staff we have four primary areas of focus: building collaborations, professional development, advocacy, and capacity building. The OAAE is funded in part for its day-to-day operation by the Ohio Arts Council. This support makes it possible for the OAAE to operate its office in Columbus and to work statewide to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Support for arts education projects comes from the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, Ohio Educational Theatre Association, VSA Ohio, and OhioDance. The Community Arts Education programs of Central Ohio are financially assisted by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the financial support received from each of these outstanding agencies and organizations.
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