Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Tennessee teachers have filed a second lawsuit this year challenging the state’s use of student standardized test scores to determine teachers' retention and merit pay evaluations. Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman are named as defendants in the suit filed by Knox County teacher Mark Taylor, an eighth grade science teacher who said that he was unfairly denied a bonus after his teacher effectiveness score was based on the standardized test scores of only 22 of his 142 students. In 1992, Tennessee’s General Assembly passed the Education Improvement Act to establish “a statistical system for educational outcome assessment that uses measures of student learning to enable the estimation of teacher, school and school district statistical distributions,” called the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS). TVAAS estimates measure the impact that teachers, schools and school districts have on the educational progress of students based on state standardized tests results in grades 3 through 8. Because Tennessee sought Race to the Top federal funds that require local districts to measure teacher effectiveness on student standardized test scores, the TVAAS is heavily weighted in teachers’ overall effectiveness score for hiring, retention, and incentive decisions.
For the plaintiff Taylor, who teaches four upper-level physical science courses and one regular eighth grade science class, only the standardized scores of his general science class counted in his TVAAS estimate. The student scores in his higher-performing upper-level classes, measured by local tests, were not included in his evaluation. Taylor was denied a bonus under the teacher evaluation program even though he says the observation component of his evaluation showed that he was exceeding expectations. Taylor argues that the state violated his 14th Amendment right to equal protection from “irrational state-imposed classifications” by using a small fraction of his students to determine his overall effectiveness. Last month, Knox County teacher Lisa Trout challenged the TVAAS evaluation system after she was denied a bonus. Trout alleged that she was misled about how her TVAAS estimate would be calculated. The Tennessee case is Taylor v. Haslam, No. 3:14CV00113, 2014 WL 1087776 (E.D.Tenn., filed March 19, 2014). Read more at the Tennessee Education Association here.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Education Secretary Arne Duncan downplays his influence in educational policy and curriculums, saying that "[t]he best ideas in education will never come from me or anyone else in Washington, D.C." Others, including a post on this blog, contend that Duncan is the deFacto United States School Superintendent. The Learning Matters has PBS News Hour profile of Secretary Duncan noting that he has "unprecedented power" and that "his critics on the right and the left are enraged but seem powerless to stop him." The site also has comments from Congressman John Kline, Diane Ravitch, and NYU Professor Jonathan Zimmerman.
As a result of the Abbott v. Burke litigation, New Jersey has consistently had the most progressive funding formula in the nation, meaning that the state drives the highest funding to the neediest school districts. Governor Christie has decided to abandon the progressive funding formula for the 2014-15 school year. Moreover, in the notice of change sent to districts, Christie did not indicate how the state aid would be allocated in the absence of this formula. The Education Law Center, in papers filed with the Supreme Court of New Jersey, assert that the Governer's failure to fund the formula violates 2009 and 2011 rulings by the court:
In the 2009 ruling, the Court allowed the State to implement the SFRA, but only if the State operated the formula from year-to-year at its "optimal level." In 2011, the Court, in ordering the Governor to restore $500 million in funding cut from urban districts, again ordered the State to keep the formula running properly in future years. In both rulings, the Court made crystal clear that the State has a continuing obligation to operate the formula every year to ensure all students the resources they need for a constitutional, "thorough and efficient" education.
This spring, a 9-year-old student shaved her hair in support of her best friend, who was undergoing chemotheraphy and had lost her hair. The student, Kamryn Renfro, was student at a public charter school in Grand Junction, Colorado. Kamryn's mother alerted the school in advance, but was told by the school that dress code prohibitted shaved heads and Kamryn could not return to school until her hair grew back. Under public outcry, the school buckled. Whether this case falls under a liberty deprivation or property is questionable, although I would tend to characterize it as both and as a constructive, if not actual, suspension. Regardless, it highlights the absurdity of school discipline and conduct rules, which schools insist they have a right to pass and enforce, and which courts hold that the constitution affords almost no recourse. Here's my paper on why actions of this sort are unconstitutional, even if not yet recognized as such.
Friday, March 28, 2014
A new report by the Civil Rights Project finds that New York “has the most segregated schools in the country.” Weighing the state down is New York City, “home to the largest and one of the most segregated public school systems in the nation.” This was not always the case, says the report. “Forty years ago, school desegregation was a serious component of the state’s education policy, as a result of community pressure and legal cases.” But “[a]round the time of Reagan’s administration, the state moved away from desegregation efforts and instead focused on other practices and policies like accountability systems, school choice, and charter schools.” Today, those policies, particularly school choice, “are exacerbating racial isolation as demographics continue to change.”
The report takes an interesting new tactic on the question of high performing minority schools, the idea of which drives the charter school movement. The Civil Rights Project writes: “Can separate be equal, yes. If measured by test scores, a few resegregated schools show high performance." This point is one that often breaks down discussions about integration, even within the minority community, because some believe that integration policy is a statement that minority schools cannot be successful. Thus, the Civil Rights Project allows that they can (even if inconsistently) and moves on to more important points. It writes, "even if equality can be reached between racially isolated schools, students may never achieve the skills and abilities required to navigate an increasingly diverse nation.” Moreover, 60 years of research demonstrates that integrated schools produce greater academic achievement, higher future earnings, better health outcomes for minority students, reduced racial prejudice, and greater interracial communication skills.
The report argues that school segregation is not inevitable in New York. In fact, the conditions are ripe for integration. There is “a growing diversity of student enrollment in schools and school districts across the state and main metropolitan areas, particularly in urban schools.” Education policy has simply failed to tap into it, instead allowing segregation to persist, if not increase.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Janet Hyde et al. have completed a new meta-analysis of single sex education research, The Effects of Single-Sex Compared With Coeducational Schooling on Students’ Performance and Attitudes: A Meta-Analysis, which was published in the Psychological Bulletin last month. To date, it is the largest and most comprehensive study of its type. Hyde states: "We looked at 184 studies, representing the testing of 1.6 million students in grades K-12 from 21 nations, for outcomes related to science and mathematics performance, educational attitudes and aspirations, self-concept and gender stereotyping. From these, we selected 57 studies that corrected for factors like parental education and economics, which are known to benefit children's school performance." They found that most of schools' claims on behalf of single-sex education are not supported by the research:
- "One claim of single-sex schooling advocates is that, for girls, it will improve math-science performance because they are not mixed with boys who, it's claimed, dominate the classroom. But there is not any advantage, if you look at the controlled studies."
- "The claim that boys do better verbally in single-sex schooling, because they get squelched in a coed setting, did not hold up. And the claim has been made that girls will develop a better self-concept, but again there is no evidence for that."
- "There has been some thinking that this would help ethnic minority boys, but we did not find enough studies covering that topic."
They found the research more consistently showed the harms of single sex-education. "There is a mountain of research in social psychology showing that segregation by race or gender feeds stereotypes, and that's not what we want. The adult world is an integrated world, in the workplace and in the family, and the best thing we can do is provide that environment for children in school as we prepare them for adulthood."
These findings spell legal trouble for the 500 or more districts currently operating some form of single sex education. Supreme Court precedent and federal regulations requite single sex education to be supported by an important government interest. One would be remedying past discrimination, the other improving educational outcomes. Most schools claim the latter, which this study undermines. Nonetheless, a recent story in the Atlantic reports that single sex education has been making somewhat of a comeback. It explores the heated politics on both sides of the issue.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed legislation Monday to drop Indiana from the Common Core State Standards Initiative, saying that "the state's students are best served by education decisions made at the state and local level." Indiana's State Board of Education will now draft new standards outlining what students should be learning in each grade, AP reports. About half of the new standards will still be based on Common Core standards, though, and Indiana will continue to meet its No Child Left Behind waiver requirements. Also, because the SAT plans to modify its content to reflect the Common Core standards, states will feel that they must include Common Core content in their own standards to prepare students for the college admission exams. Other states are expected to join Indiana in deserting Common Core, but the question that is still being answered is what is driving the moves now. A good (but unlikely) reason could be that the Common Core materials need work as educational tools, and districts need more time to figure out how to implement them. Another fine reason could be that the cost of implementation could leave states as hostages of commercial education publishers for years on (in many states) diminishing public education budgets. While educators are pointing this out throughout the country, given the recent political stance of teacher-bashing, state legislatures are unlikely to be moved by them. Tea-party conservatives have pressured state legislatures for years to dump the standards because of perceived federal influence, but states cannot afford to thumb their noses at federal funds. So what will be driving Common Core departures--political pressure, educational policy, implementation costs--or the story of New York, which towed the Common Core line and got slammed in its first-year student testing results?
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to debate Richard Duncan in a Federalist Society forum on school choice. In my naivete, I had assumed the point of the debate was academic. Halfway through it, I felt compelled to point out to the audience that his arguments about religious freedom had moved well beyond constitutional doctrine or sound educational policy. Rather, he was forwarding a political argument masquerading as a constitutional claim. I revel in a good political debate as much as anyone else and said I welcomed a political debate, in which everyone would be entitled to their opinion, but the same is not necessarily true in regard to the constitutional and educational policy claims because there are certain baseline facts and doctrines beyond dispute there.
Nevertheless, I left the debate thinking our conversation was limited to a causal Monday afternoon luncheon. Today, my naivete was exemplified again. Stephanie Simon, of Politico, reports that taxpayers are increasingly bankrolling the tuition of students attending private religious schools. The current total investment in just 14 states is nearly $1 billion a year. Since 2010, those numbers are up 30 percent. Twenty-six additional states are considering measures that would add to this growth. I knew we had seen an uptick in recent years, but not this much. This rapid growth is being fueled by political lobbies. One pro-voucher group, the American Federation for Children, has spent $18 million on these campaigns since 2007.
Of course, this movement is not new. James Foreman's article, The Rise and Fall of School Vouchers: A Story of Religion, Race and Politics, 54 UCLA L. REV. 547 (2007), details how religious advocates for vouchers drew on inner city communities' interest in escaping failing schools to secularize their voucher claims, and how the Supreme Court then sanctioned it. But as charters became more readily available, inner city communities' interest in vouchers fizzled somewhat and, with it, the necessary political support to pass legislation. What is interesting in this new round of advocacy is that since the Court has sanctioned vouchers that place students in religious schools (because the overall program is non-discriminatory and the purported purpose secular), voucher advocates appear more willing to assert religious freedom, if not entitlement, as the basis for expanding voucher programs. They claim the state is discriminating against them if it does not provide them with vouchers. Current doctrine, of course, does not support such a claim. But pushing back against this claim requires that one sees it for what it is: a political claim. Moreover, it may not even be the politics of religion pushing it, but the politics of privatization, which use religious and minority interests as window dressing for a larger agenda.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Running out of time to hold on its No Child Left Behind waiver, Washington State may face sanctions—but the question is what will the Obama administration want to do about a state that actually is making substantial efforts to turn around low-performing schools—just not in the way that federal policy mandates. For Washington State, loss of its NCLB waiver could mean that $38 million in Title I funds in the 2014-2015 school year could be diverted to school choice, voucher programs, and private tutoring efforts. Losing the waiver would also place many of the state’s public schools into the failing-to-make-adequate-yearly-progress category, the Tacoma News Tribune reported last month. Washington’s NCLB renewal has been on high-risk status since last August, joining Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon in the ED’s NCLB waiver doghouse. Earlier this year, Washington State officials met with Education Secretary Arne Duncan who insisted that teachers and principals’ evaluations include statewide assessments, not just local or regional ones, before the ED would renew the state’s NCLB waiver. Washington State’s teacher evaluations already include students' scores on district-level assessments, but the ED wants the state legislature to mandate the use of statewide tests for teacher accountability. Washington Governor Jay Inslee tried to get a bill passed this February to require that students' statewide test scores be used to measure teacher effectiveness, but those attempts failed. While EdWeek points out that the ED has given some states an extension, those extensions applied to how student assessment scores factor in teacher hiring and firing, not whether a state uses statewide or local standardized tests as the accountability measure.
For those who missed it Friday, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released the results its civil rights data collection. OCR is calling it the most comprehensive look at civil rights in education in 15 years. "This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain. In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "As the President's education budget reflects in every element—from preschool funds to Pell Grants to Title I to special education funds—this administration is committed to ensuring equity of opportunity for all."
"This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed. This Administration is moving aggressively to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in order to ensure that all of our young people have equal educational opportunities."
The most troubling findings, according to OCR, were:
Access to preschool. About 40% of public school districts do not offer preschool, and where it is available, it is mostly part-day only. Of the school districts that operate public preschool programs, barely half are available to all students within the district.
Suspension of preschool children. Black students represent 18% of preschool enrollment but 42% of students suspended once, and 48% of the students suspended more than once.
Access to advanced courses. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Asian-American high school students and 71% of white high school students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics). However, less than half of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students have access to the full range of math and science courses in their high school. Black students (57%), Latino students (67%), students with disabilities (63%), and English language learner students (65%) also have less access to the full range of courses.
Access to college counselors. Nationwide, one in five high schools lacks a school counselor; in Florida and Minnesota, more than two in five students lack access to a school counselor.
Retention of English learners in high school. English learners make up 5% of high school enrollment but 11% of high school students held back each year.
Friday, March 21, 2014
The U.S. Department of Education's appointment of the Equity and Excellence Commission in 2010 and the release of its report For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence last spring would indicate a serious interest in funding fairness. This Commission also fell on the heels of the Department seeking authority to collect far more information on school funding than it ever had before. But if one's seriousness is measured by where one puts its money, the Education Law Center's studies suggest that the Department is anything but serious.
In the past four years, the Department has given out billions of dollars in competitive grants through its Race to the Top initiative. Those grants, ironically, have routinely gone to states ranking the worst in terms of funding fairness. As the Education Law Center pointed out just over a year ago, all of those grants in 2012 went to states that had serious deficiencies in their school funding formulas. One might defend those grants as attempts to help those states that need it the most. After all, I and Goodwin Liu have advocated for federal funding formulas that help needy states or incentivize effort. These grants, however, do not achieve that. The Education Law Center's reports factor in several different aspects of school funding before assigning a state a final grade. For instance, they assess how hard a state is trying to fund education and how equitably a state distributes its funding, even if those funds are meager. In other words, when a state ranks poorly on the Education Law Center's report cards, there is not much positive that can be said for the state. Giving grants to those states begs the question of whether school funding fairness is really a priority for the Department of Education.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Recent stories out of New York City note the continuing decline of black and Latino students admissions to elite area high schools such as Manhattan's Stuyvestant High School, Staten Island Tech, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, and Queens Science. The Staten Island Post reports that "[o]f the 5,096 students accepted by eight specialized schools, just 5 percent were black and 7 percent were Hispanic." This year, Staten Island Tech is concerned that it will have no black students in its upcoming freshman class; this year it had five freshman. Other NY elite high schools are reporting similar numbers. Because the criteria used for admission to elite specialized high schools throughout the city is the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT), black and Latino students' performance on that test predict their admission to the city's science and tech high schools. Two years ago, the Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit with the Department of Justice about the low numbers of black and Latino students, and New York City implemented a tutoring program to help increase admissions to the city's elite schools. The declining numbers of black and Latinos in high science and tech programs will inevitably affect the admissions of such students admitted to top science universities.
One Nation Indivisible has released its newest story, Utah's Bilingual Boon, which profiles Spanish two-way bilingual programs in which native English speaking and native Spanish speaking students share classrooms and learn together in both languages. These two way programs are part of a larger, state-supported language immersion effort. This story took One Nation Indivisible to rural, urban and suburban schools in Heber City, Park City and Kamas. See the full story here.
The IDEA and Section 504: Current Trends and Challenges for Leading Practitioners in Education and Law
Lehigh University's College of Education is hosting a one-week intensive training on special education law. The program is designed for special education coordinators, teachers, principals, pyschologists, parents, attorneys and hearing officers. The program will include presentations by Michael Yudin, nominee for Assistant Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Dept. of Education, and Melody Musgrove, Director of Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Dept. of Education. The program flyer is here: Download Lehigh Sp Ed Law Symposium 2014.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
A new book, The ADHD Explosion, by health economists Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Scheffler finds a recent explosion in cases of ADHD among children. In 2003, 7.8 percent of students were diagnosed with ADHD. The number has steadily increased since then, reaching 11 percent in 2011. They attribute the cause to high stakes testing. Prior to NCLB, there were individual states with high identification rates for ADHD. Those states tended to be ones with high stakes testing and accountability systems. After the passage of NCLB, those states with formerly low rates of identification saw their numbers climb as well.
If their conclusion is accurate, this may be one of the most eye-opening and important studies with education implications we have seen in some time. Toward that end, I am going to try to rope some of our special education experts into commenting on it. Until then, I will leave you with the book's synopsis:
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most controversial and misunderstood medical conditions today. With skyrocketing rates of diagnosis and medication treatment, it has generated a firestorm of controversy. Alarming questions have been raised about ADHD in recent years, including:
- Why are one in nine children and adolescents in the U.S. now diagnosed with ADHD, with projected rates still rising?
- Why are nearly 70% of those diagnosed with ADHD prescribed medication?
- What is causing the fast-rising diagnosis and medication of adults? And why are over a quarter of all college students using stimulants for academic performance?
- In some southern states, why are boys over 9 years old diagnosed at rates of almost one in three?
- Can we trust the stories we read and hear about ADHD, even in major media outlets?
- What is driving the current ADHD explosion–is it parents, doctors, schools, culture, the healthcare system, or Big Pharma? And will it end?
Stephen Hinshaw, a distinguished psychologist, and Richard Scheffler, an eminent health economist, uniquely blend clinical wisdom, current science, medical and school policy, and global trends to debunk myths and set the record straight in The ADHD Explosion. They describe the origins of ADHD and its huge costs to society; the science behind its causes as well as medication and behavioral treatment; and the variation in diagnosis and treatment across the U.S. Dealing directly with stimulants as “smart pills,” they describe the epidemic of medicalization, arguing that accurate diagnosis and well-monitored care could ease the staggering economic burden linked to ADHD.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
AALS Call for Papers: Dead Upon Birth: The Inter-Generational Cycle of Thwarted Lives in America’s Poorest Neighborhoods
The AALS Section on Children and the Law is has announced a Call for Papers for the AALS 2015 Annual Meeting. The topic is Dead Upon Birth: The Inter-Generational Cycle of Thwarted Lives in America’s Poorest Neighborhoods.
“The D.U.B.” is a nickname southside Chicago residents have given a neighborhood exemplifying a tragic reality in many of this country’s urban and rural areas: Children are born into struggling families in deeply dysfunctional neighborhoods and have little chance for full and flourishing lives. In some parts of America, a boy born today is more likely to end up in prison than college and a girl is more likely to become drug addicted than married. Many parents keep young children in “lockdown” at home when they are not in school, to shield them for as long as possible from gang recruitment and gun crossfire. This panel will discuss the economic, political, and cultural causes of concentrated poverty, crime, and disease and alternative strategies for sparing children from it. Panelists will address, from a child-centered perspective, issues such as “neighborhood effect” on child development, state response to parental incapacity, housing policy, relocation programs, foster care and adoption, inadequate education, school disciplinary policies, access to healthcare, employment opportunities, substance abuse and mental illness, criminal law enforcement and incarceration, and societal responsibility for the circumstances in which children live.
Cynthia Godsoe, Brooklyn Law School, will be moderating the panel, which already includes Elizabeth Bartholet (Harvard Law School), Josh Gupta-Kagan (University of South Carolina School of Law), and James Dwyer (William & Mary School of Law).
The fourth panelist will be selected from the call for papers. There is no formal requirement as to the form or length of proposals. Preference will be given to proposals that are substantially complete and to papers that offer novel scholarly insights on the panel topic. A paper may have already been accepted for publication as long as it will not be published prior to the Annual Meeting. The Section does not have plans to publish the papers, so individual presenters are free to seek their own publishing opportunities.
Deadline: August 15, 2014. Please email submissions, in Word or PDF format, to the Program Committee c/o Jim Dwyer at firstname.lastname@example.org with “CFP submission” in the subject line.
Sean Reardon and Ann Owens have released 60 Years After Brown: Trends and Consequences of School Segregation, which is forthcoming in the Annual Review of Sociology. The primary focus of the paper is whether segregation has increased since 1990. Civil Rights Project reports and others have, of course, popularized the "resegregation" of public schools, finding a sharp upward trend over the last two decades. Another smaller group of scholars (Vigdor and Glaeser) have claimed the opposite: that segregation is coming to an end. Reardon and Owens attempt to mediate this disagreement, which they claim stems from different methodology between the two camps. Reardon and Owens agree that minorities attend school with fewer whites today than they did 20 years ago. In this respect, one could argue they are more segregated. But Reardon and Owens stress that more minorities attend public school today than 20 years. Thus, by necessity, they attend schools that are more populated by minorities than whites. This change is not the equivalent of "resegregation." To analyze resegregation, they say, one must factor in this growth in the percentage of minorities attending public schools. Accounting for this growth, they find that segregation levels have remained relatively stable since the 1990s. They point out, however, that this does not mean that schools are free of troubling trends. For instance, there are still issues of socio-economic segregation and classroom segregation that have not been fully explored.
I would also emphasize a more important takeaway. Our schools were never "integrated." In the South, for instance, 4o percent of African Americans in the South attended integregated schools by the end of the 1980s, which was signficant progress, but far from full integration. In the North, nowhere near as much progress was made. Thus, to say they have not resegregated is not to say everything is fine or we can breath a sigh of relief. Rather, it is to say that the work in progress from the 1980s remains unfinished. Our only victory, if you want to call it that, is that we have not gone backward as far as we might have thought.
Reardon and Owens' abstract is as follows:
Since the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, researchers and policymakers have paid close attention to trends in school segregation. While Brown focused on black-white segregation, here we review the evidence regarding trends and consequences of both racial and economic school segregation. In general, the evidence regarding trends in racial segregation suggests that the most significant declines in black-white school segregation occurred at the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s. Although there is disagreement about the direction of more recent trends in racial segregation, this disagreement is largely driven by different definitions of segregation and different ways of measuring it. We conclude that the changes in segregation in the last few decades are not large, regardless of what measure is used, though there are important differences in the trends across regions, racial groups, and institutional levels. Limited evidence on school economic segregation makes documenting trends difficult, but in general, students are more segregated by income across schools and districts today than in 1990. We also discuss the role of desegregation litigation, demographic changes, and residential segregation in shaping trends in both racial and economic segregation.
One of the reasons that scholars, policymakers, and citizens are concerned with school segregation is that segregation is hypothesized to exacerbate racial or socioeconomic disparities in educational success. The mechanisms that would link segregation to disparate outcomes have not often been spelled out clearly or tested explicitly. We develop a general conceptual model of how and why school segregation might affect students and review the relatively thin body of empirical evidence that explicitly assesses the consequences of school segregation. This literature suggests that racial desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s was beneficial to blacks; evidence of the effects of segregation in more recent decades, however, is mixed or inconclusive. We conclude with discussion of aspects of school segregation on which further research is needed.
The Department of Education announced new regulations Friday for-profit career institutions to show that they are preparing students for gainful employment. This is the Obama administration's second round of "gainful employment" rulemaking after a federal district court struck down the ED's first set of regulations, Program Integrity, in 2012. In Ass'n of Private Colleges & Univ. v. Duncan, 870 F.Supp.2d 133 (D.D.C. 2012), the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the regulations as arbitrary because the ED had not given a “reasoned explanation” for its student debt repayment rate test that required that at least 35% of an institution's graduates had to be repaying their student loans for a for-profit to qualify for Title IV student aid. The Department said the 35% rate identified the lowest-performing quarter of for-profit institutions. The ED has set new metrics in its latest proposed regulations. From the ED's statement on Friday, the new regulations require that "the estimated annual loan payment of typical [career college] graduates does not exceed 20 percent of their discretionary earnings or 8 percent of their total earnings and the default rate for former students does not exceed 30 percent" and that "institutions must publicly disclose information about the program costs, debt, and performance of their gainful employment programs so that students can make informed decisions." The administration is targeting student outcomes in some of the nation's for-profit colleges, which represent about 13 percent of the total higher education population, but about 31 percent of all student loans and nearly half of all loan defaults. The administration says that 72% of for-profit gainful employment programs produced graduates that earned less than high school dropouts. Read the proposed regulations here.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Osamudia R. James' new article, Opt-Out Education: School Choice as Racial Subordination, is now available on westlaw at 99 Iowa L. Rev. 1083 (2014). Her abstract summarizes the article as follows:
Despite failure to improve academic outcomes or close the achievement gap, school-choice policies, advanced by education legislation and doctrine, have come to dominate public discourse on public education reform in the United States, with students of color disproportionately enrolling in voucher programs and charter schools. This Article moves past the typical market-based critiques of school choice to analyze the particularly racialized constraints on choice for marginalized students and their families in the public school system. The Article unpacks the blame-placing that occurs when the individualism and independence that school choice and choice rhetoric promote fail to improve academic outcomes, and the ways in which choice merely masks racial subordination and the abdication of democratic values in the school system. Students of color and their families may be opting out, but their decisions to do so neither improve public education nor reflect genuine choice. This Article ultimately argues that the values underlining school choice and choice rhetoric?like privacy, competition, independence, and liberty?are inherently incompatible with the public school system. The Article concludes by suggesting an alternate legal and rhetorical framework acknowledging the vulnerability of minority students, as well as the interdependence between white students and non-white students in the system, and it advances strict limitations on school choice, even, if necessary, in the form of compulsory universal public school education.
Perry Zirkel is publishing a follow-up to her and Karen Gischlar's prior longitudinal study of IDEA administrative filings and court adjudications. The prior study "found a steady increase in the volume of decisions during the period 1991 to 1996, followed by a 'relatively high, albeit uneven, plateau' from 1997 to 2005." In the six year period following this prior study, the new study found a "clearly downward longitudinal trend for adjudicated [due process hearings] . . . , ending at a seemingly relatively stable level less than half that of the start of the period."
The study also attempts to identify the cause of this shift, positing that "the reduction would seem to be attributable to the nationally systemic emphases 1) initiated in the 2004 amendments and 2006 regulations of the IDEA, including extending the option of mediation to the period before filing for a [due process hearing] and—more notably—adding the innovation of a resolution session as a prerequisite to the DPH; and 2) supplemented by the continuing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) activities of the OSEP-funded National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education, such as IEP facilitation." Zirkel, however, reasons that neither of those explanations are a primary cause because the number of filings declined much less than adjudications, and the declines were largely isolated to just a few jurisdictions, rather than nationally.
The full paper is here Download Zirkel DPH Trends.