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Everything listed under: Education Reform

  • Missouri Legislature 2015 Wrap-Up Post

     

    The First Regular Session of the 98th Missouri General Assembly ended on May 15th. During the 4.5-month-long session, a number of bills affecting Missouri public schools were the subjects of debate. From budgets to bullying to school transfer law, here’s a summary of the biggest education-related bills of the session.

    State Budget Approval & the Foundation Formula
    Congress passed the state’s Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget. The budget, which will go into effect July 1st, includes an $84 million increase in funding for the Foundation Formula. Despite the increase, the Formula remains under-funded by more than $440 million.

    Learn more: Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula

    Supplemental Budget Approval
    The state’s supplemental budget bill, which helps cover unexpected expenses in the current year, was passed during the legislative session. The bill allocated $3.78 million to K-12 schools and $3.4 million to early childhood special education programs.

    A+ Funding for Illegal Immigrants
    Legislators passed a bill that will exclude illegal immigrants from qualifying for Missouri A+ Program scholarship funding. The bill was designed to ensure that residents have state scholarship funding priority. Opponents of the bill are concerned that students brought to the United States as children are being punished unfairly and prevented from achieving higher education goals. (Source)

    Learn more: Missouri’s A+ Program Benefits Thousands Each Year

    Higher Education Funding
    HB3 increases funding for Missouri’s public higher education institutions by $12 million. The bill was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.

    School Transfers
    Legislature passed a school transfer bill (HB42) that opponents hope will be vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon. The bill, which would expand charter and virtual schools in the state, would also affect accreditation and school transfer.

    Under the bill, individual schools — not entire school districts — would earn accreditation. Students would be able to transfer from a failing school to an accredited school in their home districts. If an accredited school doesn’t exist in the student’s district, the student could still transfer outside the district.

    Failing schools would still be required to pay tuition and transportation costs for transfer students. The bill placed no limits on the cost of tuition charged by receiving districts. (Source)

    Learn more: School Transfer: An Expensive Law for Struggling Schools

    Day Care Bill
    SB341, which was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, requires day care centers to establish safe sleep policies and to disclose registration of unvaccinated children. The bill also establishes reporting procedures for juveniles with sexual behavior issues. (Source)

    Bullying
    A prominent anti-bullying bill didn’t survive the session. HB458 would have made school anti-bullying policy requirements stricter. The bill defined bullying and cyber bullying, and called for schools to play a more active role in suicide prevention. Many schools already have already enacted written anti-bullying policies on their own, but the bill would have legally required them to do so. (Source)

    Learn more: Bullying in Schools: How Adults Can Help

    A New President for the State Board of Education
    Unrelated to lawmaking, but coinciding with the legislative session, the State Board of Education elected a new president, Charlie Shields of St. Joseph, to replace former president Peter Herschend. Shields is the Chief Operating Officer at Truman Medical Centers, and served 20 years in the Missouri General Assembly. (Source)

    Missouri Parent is a free service for all Missouri parents and others who have an interest in public education. We aim to provide accurate and timely information on education funding and legislative issues that impact public education.

    To continue to learn about policies affecting your child’s Missouri public school education, bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.


  • The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Isn’t a Game. Or Is It?

     

    U.S. Congress has been trying to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) all year, but it still hasn’t passed. It turns out that the ESEA isn’t the only bill to get hung up in federal congressional debate; only 1% of bills that go through U.S. Congress pass.

    Learn More About ESEA: What Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Is

    The Reauthorization of the ESEA shouldn’t be a political game, but it sometimes seems as though Congress treats it like one. To draw attention to the ESEA, and to help advocate for its reauthorization, EducationWeek.com published an online game called, “Can You Beat The Legislative Odds and Get Your Bill Passed?”

    The game uses multiple choice questions to guide you through a sort of “choose your own adventure” storyline. The goal: to have your bill passed by Congress and signed off on by the President. The catch: you have to be politically savvy to push the bill from a big idea to a real-life law. You can try your hand at the political gamut here

    .

    According to Education Week and the Sunlight Foundation, members of Congress introduced 5,584 bills in 2013, and only 15 Senate bills and 41 House bills were passed into law.

    Read more about the federal legislative process, and about why education bills can take so long to make their way through Congress and to the President’s desk in this story on the Education Week Blog.

    Learn more about education policy and legislation by bookmarking Missouri Parent News. You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

     

  • School Transfer: An Expensive Law for Struggling Schools

     

    Missouri’s School Transfer Law allows students who live in an unaccredited Missouri school district to attend school in an accredited district. When students transfer under the law, their home district (the failing district) is required to pay for their transportation to and tuition for the accredited school they’ll attend. This is an expensive an unsustainable solution for struggling schools.

    An Expensive Solution
    School transfers are expensive for the unaccredited district. In 2013, when both the Normandy and Riverview Gardens in St. Louis County were deemed unaccredited, more than 2,000 students transferred.

    While state lawmakers have proposed changes to the School Transfer Law, the law — in its current form — is an unsustainable one for unaccredited districts. Tuition alone cost between $7,000 and $21,000 per student for Normandy and Riverview Gardens. That means that the two districts spent more than $14 million just on tuition — an expense that threatened to send Normandy into bankruptcy. (Source)

    Learn More: Riverview Gardens Struggling as Result of School Transfers

    An Unsustainable Solution
    While the school transfer law helps the individual students who transfer out of struggling schools into successful ones, the transfer law doesn’t solve the larger problems facing failing schools. In fact, it just drains money away from schools that are already having a hard time maintaining infrastructure, providing students with quality resources, and hiring and retaining good teachers.

    This 2014 news story on STLToday.com opened by saying that Normandy School District was “buckling under the financial weight of Missouri’s school transfer law.”

    More recently, Normandy estimated that if more than 530 students transfer to accredited districts, “the cost of their tuition and in some cases their transportation could cause Normandy to go broke.” (Source)

    Selling Assets to Stay Afloat
    The sale of unused school district property is one of Normandy’s only saving graces. Beyond Housing, a nonprofit organization purchased seven empty schools and an early childhood center from Normandy last year, giving it a brief influx of funds.

    Profits from those sales have helped Normandy to remain operational, but how much longer can the district survive on this trajectory? How can lawmakers stand by while thousands of St. Louis public school students risk losing their local public school district entirely?

    Selling off assets and paying to send students to accredited schools isn’t a sustainable solution for Normandy, and it won’t be a strong solution for other Missouri schools that face lost accreditation in future years, either.

    Students Deserve a Quality Education at Home
    Missouri’s public school students deserve a high quality education in their own local public schools. The school transfer law helps some of the students in each unaccredited district, but for every student the law helps right now, it harms dozen more in the long run.

    As STLToday.com said, “the situation gives opportunity to about 430 Normandy children now in higher performing schools, but at the expense of the 3,500 who stayed.”

    That’s the risk of the school transfer law: its unreasonably expensive for local districts, and as a result, it’s not a sustainable way for our legislature to address lost accreditation. Struggling schools need to be made stronger by education policy. Instead, our state’s school transfer law is threatening to run them into the ground.

    Learn more about Missouri education policy and funding issues by bookmarking the Missouri Parent Blog. Get daily news updates from Missouri Parent News, and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for timely information about state and local education policy.



  • #MissouriMath: The School Transfer Law

    Missouri’s School Transfer Law allows students who live in an unaccredited school district to attend school in an accredited district. When students transfer, their home district (the failing district) is required to pay for their transportation to and tuition for the accredited school they’ll attend.

    Learn More: Understanding Missouri’s School Transfer Law

    School transfers are expensive for the unaccredited district. In 2013, when both the Normandy and Riverview Gardens in St. Louis County were deemed unaccredited, more than 2,000 students transferred.

    While state lawmakers have proposed changes to the School Transfer Law, the law — in its current form — is an expensive one for unaccredited districts and profitable for receiving districts.

    Tuition alone cost between $7,000 and $21,000 per student for Normandy and Riverview Gardens in 2013. That means that the two districts spent more than $14 million just on tuition — an expense that threatened to send Normandy into bankruptcy. (Source)

    Learn More: Riverview Gardens Struggling as Result of School Transfers

    Representative Clem Smith (D – Velda Village Hills) told STLToday.com that, “getting a transfer kid is like hitting the lottery. Order a few more lunches, but whatever money (transfers) brings in, you absorb that into your budget.” (Source)

    The total number of transfer students in Normandy and Riverview Gardens fell to around 1,000 in 2014, but the costs to those districts still is still taking its toll. Normandy’s superintendent Charles Pearson, told STLToday.com that the district is operating “on a survival budget” when it should be focused on improving instruction. (Source)

    Missouri Parent agrees with Pearson that education money should be invested in education, not in transportation and tuition. When the cost of tuition and transportation for an individual student to attend a different school exceeds the state’s average per-pupil expenditure (PPE), it’s just not sustainable.

    Instead of spending taxpayer dollars paying for tuition and transportation, Missouri Parent believes that the state should invest that money directly in rebuilding Missouri’s unaccredited schools. The Missouri School Transfer law is an example of #MissouriMath that just doesn’t add up.

    Stay up to date on legislative and funding issues affecting your child’s K-12 public school education in Missouri by bookmarking Missouri Parent News. Get daily updates on policy, education, and more by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter.



  • Missouri Education Advocates: Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA)

       

    Name: Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA)

    About: MSTA is a grassroots organization made up of local Community Teachers Associations (CTA) in each local school district, reflecting MSTA’s strong commitment to local control. Members set the policy of and priorities of MSTA to meet the needs of Missouri educators. The organization was founded in 1856, and provides services and benefits to its more than 45,000 members.

    Employees: You can find a full contact list for the MSTA headquarters here.

    President: Stacy Williamson

    Website: http://www.MSTA.org

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Social Media Sites:
    The MSTA Blog
    MSTA on Facebook
    Student MSTA on Facebook
    Missouri FTA on Facebook
    MSTA on Twitter
    MSTA on Pinterest
    MSTA on YouTube
    MSTA on Flickr

    Legislation & Advocacy:

    MSTA attends State Board of Education meetings and Public School Retirement System meetings, and it serves as liaisons to governmental agencies. It also “conducts workshops on political issues and involvement”. (Source)

    The organization endorses candidates for the Missouri legislature, and “MSTA’s government relations department delivers testimony on MSTA’s legislative platform,” according to MSTA’s website.

    MSTA publishes a weekly MSTA Action newsletter during the legislative session, explaining its position on featured pieces of Missouri state legislation. You can find archives of all MSTA Action newsletters here.

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.



  • Missouri Education Advocates: Missouri School Leaders

     

    Name: Missouri School Leaders: the Online Hub of the Missouri School Administrators Coalition

    About: Missouri School Leaders is provided by and paid for by the Missouri School Administrators Coalition (MSCA), which is the umbrella organization for two autonomous statewide professional associations of public school administrators: The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) and the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP)

    The organization is committed to building a broad coalition of parents, students, teachers, board members, business owners, and individuals that are committed to bettering the public schools in the state of Missouri.(Source)

    Missouri School Leaders helps raise money for Better Schools for Missouri (formerly MSAPAC), which aims to elect officials in Missouri that “share the value of quality public education.” (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Member Organizations:
    Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals
    Missouri State High School Athletics Association (MSHSAA)
    Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP)
    Missouri Association of Rural Education (MARE)
    Missouri K-8 Schools Association (MO-K8)
    Missouri Association of School Business Officials (MoASBO)
    Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA)
    Missouri United School Insurance Council (MUSIC)
    Missouri Council of Administrators of Special Education (MO-CASE)

    Employees: For a full list of staff, click here.

    Website: http://MOSchoolLeaders.org/

    Social Media Sites:
    Missouri School Leaders on Twitter

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    Missouri School Leaders Issues

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.



  • Missouri Education Advocates: The Missouri National Education Association (MNEA)

     

    Name: The Missouri National Education Association (MNEA)

    About: MNEA is a professional membership organization serving 35,000 Missouri teachers, librarians, counselors, coaches, school psychologists and psychiatrists, administrators, and college and university faculty. Any school employee, including bus drivers, cooks, nurses, and secretaries, can join MNEA.

    MNEA advocates for “public schools, public school students and public school employees,” and offers a variety of services including legal programs, special events, public relations campaigns, professional development, legislative work, and more.

    MNEA is affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA). The mission of MNEA is “to serve as the united voice to promote, advance and protect public education and to advocate for the rights and interests of students and our members.” (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    President: Charles Smith

    Website: http://www.MNEA.org

    Social Media Sites:
    MNEA on Facebook
    MNEA on Flickr
    MNEA on Twitter
    MNEA on YouTube

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    MNEA’s Platform & Priorities
    MNEA’s State Legislative Updates
    The Education Advocate (EA) Daily News
    MNEA Legislative Action Center
    Contact Your State or National Legislator Page
    Political Action Program

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates



  • What the No Child Left Behind Policy Means to Our Students

     

    Recently on the Missouri Parent Blog, we wrote about No Child Left Behind (NCLB), explaining what this important federal education policy is. In that post, we explained that schools that wish to receive federal funding must follow NCLB standards for performance and accountability. Today we’ll explain what each of those performance and accountability measures means to our students.

    It’s our goal to keep you informed about legislative and funding issues that affect children in Missouri’s public schools. We hope that this two-part post on No Child Left Behind helps you to better-understand in this important federal educational initiative and the impact it has on Missouri’s K-12 public school students.

    Read Part 1: What the No Child Left Behind Policy Is

    Standardized Testing
    NCLB identifies reading, language arts, mathematics, and science as “core academic subjects”. States seeking federal education funding must develop and implement state assessments in each of those subject areas. There is not a federal achievement standard – instead, each state determines what constitutes achievement in each subject area and grade level.

    What NCLB Means for Our Students: Students are required to take annual state standardized tests in reading, language arts, mathematics, and science in grades 3-8.

    Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
    Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is one of the ways NCLB measures district accountability. AYP is designed to “ensure that every child learns, every school has the opportunity to improve, and every dollar is spent wisely.” (Source)

    What AYP Means for Our Students: Federal AYP accountability standards reinforce Missouri’s need to give annual standardized tests. Without those tests, Missouri would lose federal NCLB funding. That’s not all though: Schools are identified as successful or failing based on their AYPs. Inadequate AYPs qualify students for school transfers, and persistently low AYPs can result in school closures.

    Report Cards
    NCLB requires states and districts to be transparent about school performance and teacher quality by providing a “report card” to the public.

    What Report Cards Mean for Our Students: NCLB Report Cards give you and your child an idea of your child’s academic progress compared to other students in the school district and the state. NCLB Report Cards also provide information about overall academic achievement in the district and about school safety.

    Find your child’s NCLB District Report Card here.
    Find your child’s School Report Card here.
    Read Missouri’s State Report Card here.

    Teacher Qualifications
    NCLB requires public schools to provide highly qualified teachers to students, specifically in their core academic subject areas (reading, language arts, mathematics, and science). Each state sets its own standards for what it means to be a “highly qualified” teacher.

    What NCLB’s Teacher Qualifications requirements mean to our students: As the parent of a public school student, your child’s school is required by NCLB to notify you if his or her core academic subject area teachers are not considered “highly qualified” by state standards.

    Funding Changes
    Between 2001 and 20014, total federal education funding increased from $42.2 billion to $55.7 billion. In 2014, the federal government allotted approximately $141 billion to education. (Source, Source)

    What NCLB Federal Funding Changes Mean to Our Students: School districts with high concentrations of low-income families benefit more from NCLB than students in higher-income districts. Some of the increase in federal funding was directed toward school technology. Also, students in Title I programs benefit from increased NCLB funding. Finally, Missouri’s special education students have seen an increase in federal funding since the adoption of NCLB through the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have seen an increase in federal funding since the adoption of NCLB.

    This post was the second post in a two-part post on No Child Left Behind. Continue to learn more about funding and legislative issues affecting Missouri students by bookmarking Missouri Parent Blog. You can also connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular Missouri education updates.


  • If You Don't Know Senator Alexander You Need to Read This Post

     

    The national education stage has many prominent players. Among them is Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the Senate education committee chairman. Today we’re here to make sure that if you have a child in a public school in Missouri, you have a clear idea of what’s happening in Washington—and why the name Sen. Lamar Alexander is an important one to know in 2015.

    Sen. Alexander is the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). He served as U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Busch from March 1991 to January 1993, and he has served in the U.S. Senate since 2003. Sen. Alexander recently presented a proposal to overhaul and reauthorize No Child Left Behind (NCLB). (Source, Source)

    NCLB is a contentious federal education initiative passed in early 2002 by bipartisan majorities and signed into law by former President George W. Bush. NCLB is not a federally mandated program (states are not legally required to follow NCLB). Federal education funding is tied to a state’s adoption of NCLB, though, so states hoping to receive federal funds must opt-in to NCLB.

    Many believe that NCLB has created systematic federal over-reach. Sen. Alexander is one of them, and his NCLB proposal would shift some of the responsibility of educational policy, accountability, and funding back to individual states.

    As commentator Gary Wisenbaker told Valdosta Today — Sen. Alexander’s NCLB proposal “is grounded” in the concept that states should “handle their own problems in education and schooling.” (Source)

    This EdWeek blog post goes into more detail on Sen. Alexander’s proposed changes to NCLB, but here’s Missouri Parent’s bullet-point list of changes:

    • Standardized testing could change.
    • Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures, school choice, and other federal accountability standards will be replaced with accountability standards developed by each state.
    • The federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) model will go away, and so will many other programs.
    • States would have more flexibility in how they use Title I funds.
    • States would not have to develop teacher evaluation models based on student outcomes.
    • Federal funding for quality teachers could be used in new, more flexible ways.
    • Current “high qualified teacher” provisions would go away.
    • The existed Teacher Inventive Fund would be written into law.
    • States would no longer be required to generate minimum state funding in order to receive federal education money.
    • The U.S. Secretary of Education’s reach and authority over states would be limited.

    Learn More: Read EdWeeks’ full blog post on these changes here.

    These changes are big news for NCLB, which means that they’re big changes for public school students in Missouri. If you still aren’t sure why it’s important to know who Sen. Alexander is, though he said it well himself:

    “The work of no Senatecommitteeaffects the daily lives of more Americans more than this one—whether we are fixing No Child Left Behind, or reducing federal paperwork to make it easier for students to attend college, or making it simpler formedical treatments and cures to make their waythrough the Food and Drug Administrationtopatientswho need the help.” (Source)

    If Sen. Alexander succeeds, states and local school districts will regain control, and the federal government will be able to exercise fewer mandates over them. “Generally speaking,” said Sen. Alexander during a press conference call, “I want these discussions about testing standards, and accountability systems to move back to states and communities, where I think they belong.” (Source)

    Sen. Alexander and his NCLB proposal will continue to lead education news on the national stage over the coming weeks. Bookmark the Missouri Parent News page and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on legislation and funding issues affecting Missouri schools.




  • MOParent Presents: The Missouri Education Advocates Series

     

    Missouri Parent is always ready to continue to provide timely information on education funding and legislative issues impacting public education in Missouri. We are not alone in this mission to protect our public schools.

    While the new legislative session is kicking off this month in Jefferson City, we’ll run a new series called “Missouri Education Advocates”. Our goal is to give you a better understanding of which professional education organizations work on public education legislation and advocacy in Missouri.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Each feature will be short and sweet, highlighting basic information about some of Missouri’s biggest organizations who advocate for public education in the state.

    We will update the list of education organizations as we publish individual posts about them. This ongoing list is below:

    If you would like to see any groups featured or have any questions about how education groups advocate for our schools and students, feel free to contact us at any time.

    Follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.


  • Missouri Education Advocates: Better Schools for Missouri

      

    Name: Better Schools for Missouri
    (Formerly called The Missouri School Administrators Political Action Committee)

    About: The organization now known as Better Schools for Missouri was formed in 1991 by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) and the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) “as a way for supporters of public education to help elect candidates in Missouri that share the value of quality public education” (source)

    At its founding, the organization was named the Missouri School Administrators Political Action Committee. It has since been renamed Better Schools for Missouri.

    Five organizations are sustaining members of Better Schools for Missouri:
    The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA)*
    The Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP)
    The Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP)
    The Missouri Council of Career and Technical Administrators (MCCTA)
    The Missouri Association of School Business Officials (MoASBO)

    Purpose: To support candidates for statewide and legislative offices who advance the legislative goals of the member organizations, and to promote statewide legislative issues that will further the cause of elementary and secondary education.

    Website: http://BetterSchoolsfFrMissouri.com/

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    According to the Better Schools for Missouri website:
    “Together, over the past years, we have accomplished a great deal through our lobbying and political action efforts. But our job is not done. In the next few years, school administrators must unite to face a number of legislative challenges including:

    1. Protecting the public schools against utilization of public funds for non-public education purposes such as tuition tax credits/vouchers.
    2. Working to maintain local control of education policies and finances to ensure that districts have the ability to make decisions that best meet their individual needs, including decisions regarding when school will start and setting priorities for the expenditure of school district funds.
    3. Working to maintain a residency requirement for student attendance and educating legislators regarding the need for the requirement.
    4. Changing the perception of some legislators that school administration costs are too high and that school administrators are overpaid.
    5. Working to avoid further erosion or diversion of our local property tax base.
    6.Monitoring the implementation of the new foundation formula to ensure that full funding is provided and necessary revisions are made.
    7. Working to maintain the fiscal stability of our “Public School Retirement System” (PSRS) and to ensure that all present member benefits are not eroded.
    8. Working with our national associations and congressional delegation to obtain mandatory federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and to ensure needed improvements are enacted for the No Child Left Behind law.”

    (Source)

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates”, which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    *MASA is also the sponsoring organization of the Missouri Parent program.

     

  • Missouri Legislature Appoints New Leaders for Education

     

    With the reorganization of the 98th Missouri General Assembly, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro-Tem have appointed committee chairs, made committee assignments, and even restructured several legislative committees. The committee chairs with a direct leadership role in public education and funding are as follows:

    · Representative Tom Flanigan (R-Joplin), House Budget Chair
    · Representative Kurt Bahr (R-O’Fallon), Regular Standing Committee on Appropriations- Elementary and Secondary Education
    · Representative Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton), Regular Standing Committee on Children and Families
    · Representative Lyle Rowland (R-Cedarcreek), Regular Standing Committee on Emerging Issues in Education
    · Representative Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), Select Standing Committee on Education
    · Representative Kathy Swan (R-Cape Girardeau) Regular Standing Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education
    · Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Appropriations
    · Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Education

    We congratulate all of these leaders on their appointments and look forward to their efforts for public education in Missouri.


  • The Missouri Legislature Begins Anew

     

     

    January 2014 marked the beginning of another session of the Missouri Legislature. This is the First Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly.

    As the Missouri Parent project also exists to inform our audience of public policy issues which impact public education in our state, you will begin to see more content published here and shared across our social media about the activities of our elected officials.

    We would like to share a couple general pieces of information you may find helpful as the session works its way towards completion in May.

    • You can find contact information, listen to live floor debate, and follow the progress of legislation through the Missouri General Assembly website. Additionally, The Missouri Senate and the Missouri House of Representatives have their own websites with these functions.

    • There are several committees in the legislature which have importance to our public schools. These include the House Appropriations - Elementary and Secondary Education, the House Select Committee on the Budget, the House Elementary and Secondary Education, Emerging Issues in Education, the Select Committee on Education, the Senate Education, and the Senate Appropriations committees.

    • The Missouri Senate and the Missouri House both provide web functions for finding legislation by topic.

    • You can follow live progress or ongoing discussions and posts about the Missouri Legislatures activities on social media by following the hashtag #MoLeg. Here are links to the search on Twitter and Facebook. You will also see #MoLeg on Instagram, Google+, and occasionally in our #MOParent posts.

    • Finally, from the Missouri House site, we share a page highlighting legislative processes in Missouri and a glossary of legislative terms which you will find very handy!

    If there are any other questions you have about our policy discussions, the legislature or issues you would like to see addressed, please leave a comment below or contact us at any time.


  • FORBES Quantifies the Unquantifiable: Return on Investment in Education

     

     

    FORBES published a story called, “Here’s a Plan to Turn Around Education – and Generate $225 Trillion” that tasked a small group of education policy experts with a mighty order. FORBES asked them to find out what it would take, what it would cost, and what the return on investment would be for America to become one of the highest performers in the world in education.

    The full story, printed in the December 15, 2014, issue of FORBES, is six pages long, but don’t worry: we’ll give you the overview right here in less than 500 words.

    We would like to hear your thoughts, criticisms, and similar ideas to this effort in the comments below or through our Contact page.

    The Question
    FORBES asked what it would take to get America’s student to a top five global ranking in academics. They looked at math scores, graduation rates, and college acceptance and completion rates.

    The Goals
    The study had three big goals:
    1. Identify the key policy changes America would need to make;
    2. Estimate how much those changes would cost;
    3. Estimate the national return on investment if the policy changes were successfully implemented.

    The Answers: 1 – Policy Changes
    Researchers identified five policies that the United States would need to address in order to reach a global top 5 ranking in education. Here are those areas and a basic description of each:

    1. Teacher Efficacy
    a. Attracting and retaining top college graduates.
    b. Measure teacher effectiveness.
    2. Universal pre-K
    a. “Guaranteed pre-kindergarten for every American.”
    3. Common Core Standards
    a. Using current Common Core efforts as preliminary steps, create national standards that ensure students graduate college-ready and globally competitive.
    4. Blended Learning
    a. Provide national broadband coverage and put a computer in the hands of every student.
    b. Deliver lessons that are personalized, matching each child’s needs and pace.
    5. School Leadership
    a. Empower principals and hold them accountable for educational results.

    The Answers: 2 – Costs
    To make necessary changes to those five policy areas would cost $6.2 trillion over 20 years. Or, as FORBES says, “$310 billion a year in today’s dollars.”

    The Answers: 3 – National Return on Investment
    The return on investment of these policy changes is good. Really good. According to FORBES, “If you were a for-profit investor, you could discount these findings as much as you want, and you’d still be falling over yourself to invest.”

    How good is good? Somewhere in the ballpark of $225 trillion, spread over 80 years. For a $6.2 trillion investment, that’s a payoff we should all be willing to stand behind.

    You can read the full FORBES story Here's a Plan to Turn Around U.S. Education -- and Generate $225 Trillion.

    For more on education policy, education funding, and Missouri’s public schools, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Missouri Legislature Begins Filing Education Bills

    The filing period for the 98th Missouri General Assembly opened on December 1, 2014 and concluded on January 6, 2015. Several veteran and new legislators have filed education-related bills which could impact all Missourians. While filing a bill does not guarantee any of these ideas will become law in Missouri, we will continue to monitor and report on these bills as they move through the legislative process. 

    The embedded tweets below contain links to the actual bill information on the web pages of the Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri Senate. For more information on the bills, feel free to contact Missouri Parent or the sponsor of the legislation.

    *Updated with more pre-filed education-related bills, 1.6.2015

  • What is ‘Teach Great’?

     

     

    Teach Great is both the informal name for Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3 and the name of the educational advocacy group that has initiated the amendment. Amendment 3, which focuses on teacher evaluations and standardized testing, will be on the general election ballot on November 4th, 2014.

    To understand the amendment, it helps to understand what Teach Great (the initiative) and TeachGreat.org (the organization) stand for.

    Teach Great – The Initiative
    Teach Great, the initiative, advocates for three areas of educational change in Missouri: changes to teacher evaluations, changes to how the results of those evaluations will affect teacher pay and retention, and contracting and collective bargaining rights for Missouri’s teachers.

    The Teach Great initiative is unpopular among Missouri’s professional educators and administrators, who argue that the amendment will take local control away from schools and that it will result in expensive and ineffective increases in standardized testing.

    Andrea Flinders is the President of the Kansas City Federation of Teachers and School-Related Personnel. She told the Kansas City Star that she sees the Teach Great Initiative as “a fight”, saying that Teach Great threatens local control of school boards. “We still have to educate the public. The devil is in the details,” she said.

    TeachGreat.org – The Organization
    TeachGreat.org, the organization, exists to advocate in favor of the “Teach Great” Amendment (Amendment 3). It was founded by—and has received more than $1.7 million in funding from—activist Rex Sinquefield.

    According to TeachGreat.org, the organization’s mission is to: “…reward and protect good teachers, ensure administrators are able to support struggling teachers, and make it easier for schools to hire great teachers”. (source)

    Missouri’s teachers, however, argue that Teach Great does anything but reward and protect good teachers or enable administrators to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

    Educators Stand Up Against “Teach Great”
    The Missouri Association of School Administrators, the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals, the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals, the Missouri Association of Rural Education, the Missouri State Teachers Association, and the American Federation of Teachers are just some of the organizations that are standing up against Teach Great.

    The Missouri Retired Teachers Association (MRTA), which is among those professional organizations advocating against Constitutional Amendment 3, has acquired “NoOnMO3” quotes from a number of retired Missouri teachers.

    Barbara Self, a retired teacher from Republic, Missouri, is a member of the MRTA. She told the Caldwell County News that Amendment 3 is the wrong way to educate Missouri’s students:

    (source)

    TWEET THIS

    Next Steps
    After realizing that Amendment 3 was not polling well with voters in Missouri, Teach Great called off its formal campaign efforts. The organization intends to launch a listening campaign around Missouri, during which it will hear what local communities have to say about improving education in Missouri.

    Although the organization has halted its campaign for Amendment 3, however, the amendment remains on the November 4th general election ballot. Parents, educators, administrators, and concerned community members are encouraged to continue to learn more about Amendment 3, and to vote no in the general election on November 4th.

     

    TWEET THIS

    Helping You Stay Informed
    Missouri Parent will continue to report on Amendment 3 and how efforts by political advocacy groups like Teach Great affect public education in Missouri. Stay tuned as we will soon publish a feature on the Protect Our Local Schools organization.

    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog often, and be sure to Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on the information you need to help your children succeed in Missouri schools.



     

  • Highlights of #MOTransfers Debate in MO House

    The Missouri House of Representatives debated and passed SB 493 relating to transfers of students in unaccredited schools to accredited schools in Missouri on April 30th. The bill passed 91-64 and returns to the Senate. Below are tweeted highlights from reporters and witnesses to the debate.


  • A Lesson From New Jersey Which Missouri Can Learn From

    In Part I of “A Lesson Missouri Can Learn from New Jersey’s Abbott Schools”, we explained how Abbott v. Burke resulted in a total — and highly effective — reform of New Jersey’s early elementary education programs in its poorest (and some of the poorest in the nation) schools.

    The Abbott model resulted in persistent test gains, lower retention rates, and a lesser need for special education services. Achievement gaps were made significantly smaller, and grade repetition was reduced by 12-19%.

    So how did New Jersey do it?

    Abbot v. Burke has been a long and expensive effort in school reform spanning 1985 (when the case reached the New Jersey Supreme Court) to present. During that time, New Jersey has:

    · Required low-income (dubbed “Abbott”) schools to undergo “whole school reform”.
    · Provided generous state support to Abbott schools to assist in reform.
    · Used state support to supply previously bare-boned classrooms with an influx of support, including books, computers, and teaching assistants.
    · Reduced class sizes. The new standard was 1 teacher to 15 students.
    · Strengthened early childhood curriculum.
    · Required that certified teachers teach all preschool classrooms.
    · Funded capital improvements that ensured that all students attended safe, educationally adequate, and not overcrowded schools.

    What Should Missouri Take Away?

    · New Jersey didn’t shuttle Abbott School students to different districts; it invested heavily in improving all aspects of those students’ educational experience in their own schools.
    · The state of New Jersey made huge financial investments in its early childhood education programs in Abbot Schools.
    · In New Jersey, the state contributed heavily to school improvement. (In Missouri, the Foundation Formula was still underfunded by $621 million in 2013, and less than 32% of public school funding came from the state.)

    Photo via Asbury Park Sun

  • A Lesson Missouri Can Learn from New Jersey’s Abbott Schools

    In one of the most important steps to protect poor and minority students since Brown v. Board of Education, the state of New Jersey has transformed preschool education for some of the lowest-income students in the United States.

    The multi-part litigation generally referred to as Abbott v. Burke covers educational issues that were first raised in New Jersey in the 1970s. The case resulted in the New Jersey Supreme Court requiring New Jersey to create a high-quality preschool education program for the 31 highest-poverty school districts in New Jersey, including providing all students with a safe, educationally adequate, and not-overcrowded school facility.

    According to the advocacy group Education Law Center, the Abbott rulings, “directed implementation of a comprehensive set of remedial measures, including high quality early education, supplemental programs and reforms, and school facilities improvements, to ensure an adequate and equal education for low-income schoolchildren.” (source)

    Implementation began during the 1999-2000 school year, and in 2005-6, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University began a longitudinal study to evaluate the state’s efforts.

    NIEER looked at the effects the improved preschool programs had on students’ language arts, mathematics, and science skills over time. What they found was impressive:

    · “…persistent gains in all tested subjects on the state assessments, with larger test score gains for children who participated in two years of preschool.” (source)
    · “…participation was linked to lower retention rates and fewer children needing special education.” (source)
    · “In 1999-2000, less than 15% of pre-K classrooms were good to excellent and nearly 1 in 4 was less than minimal quality. By 2007-08 the vast majority of classrooms were good to excellent. (source)
    · “The Abbott model totally transformed the quality preschool education using essentially the same programs (2/3 private) and teachers.” (source)
    · The effects of attending two years of the program were “large enough to close about half the achievement gap between low-income children and their more advantaged peers.” (source)
    · “Abbott pre-K reduced grade repetition from 19% to 12%” (source)
    · “Abbott pre-K reduced special education from 17% to 12% through 5th grade.” (source)

    So how did New Jersey do it?
    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog for Part II in this post on New Jersey’s Abbott Schools.


  • 5 Pieces of Missouri Educational Jargon Explained, Part I

    2013 has brought with it a flurry of activity around educational reform. Because so many different educational initiatives have been in the news recently, we thought it might be helpful to quickly decode five of the most common pieces of educational jargon in the state of Missouri.

    In this two-part post, we’ll give easy-to-understand explanations of Show-Me Standards, Common Core Standards, Missouri Learning Standards, Model Curriculum, and the Missouri School Improvement Program.

    Show-Me Standards
    The Show-Me Standards were established in 1993 by the Outstanding Schools Act, and were approved by the Missouri State Board of Education in 1996. They are still in effect today.

    The Show-Me Standards emphasize factual knowledge and functional skills in traditional subjects including reading, writing, mathematics, world and American history, forms of government, geography, science, health/physical education, and the fine arts.

    Common Core State Standards
    Common Core State Standards are a national movement, but aren’t lead by the federal government. A group of independent educational leaders developed the standards as a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn at each grade level so that parents and teachers know what they need to do to help students.

    Each state chooses whether to adopt Common Core State Standards (so far, Missouri is among 45 states that have adopted the Common Core). Common Core is designed to ensure that all students, no matter what school they attend or what state they go to school in, are ready for college and career.

    MOParent has written two previous blog posts that may help explain Common Core: How Does Common Core Affect Your Kids? There’s an App for That and Common Core Standards: Not a Federal Initiative.

    Come back tomorrow for easy-to-understand explanations of the Missouri Learning Standards, Model Curriculum, and the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP5).

    For more helpful explanations and tips about public education in Missouri, subscribe to Missouri Parent email updates, like Missouri Parent on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.


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