DC Shuttle …
Scrutinized Researchers Defend Their Work. Researchers from across the country converged on the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC. The researchers all had one thing in common: Their research had been included in Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) “wastebook.” The wastebook outlines 100 projects receiving federal funding that Flake says are frivolous and wasteful. The researchers named in the book displayed their research in the office building to defend the importance of their research and the federal funding for it.
Courts Side With Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct. Inside Higher Ed reported on the growing number of court cases being brought by students accused of sexual misconduct against colleges that are being won by the students. In several cases across the country, courts have found that the due process rights of accused students have been violated by schools during disciplinary proceedings. The article quoted an expert on student conduct who said, “In over 20 years of reviewing higher education law cases, I’ve never seen such a string of legal setbacks for universities, both public and private, in student conduct cases.”
California Court Upholds Teacher Tenure. A California appeals court reversed a lower court ruling that had found the state’s job-protection laws for teachers in violation of the state constitution’s equal protection guarantee. The plaintiff’s in the case, Vergara v. California, had argued that state laws governing teacher tenure and the use of seniority in determining teacher layoffs violated the state constitution because they resulted in students in poorer areas being taught by less effective teachers. Although a judge initially ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the appeals court found that the laws did not violate the constitution. The appeals court argued that the laws had nothing to do with where teachers were assigned within districts, so they were not to blame. The plaintiffs said they plan on appealing the ruling to the state Supreme Court. Similar cases are currently pending in New York and Minnesota.
Examining Challenges for New Teachers. The Atlantic published a three-part series on first-year teachers. The series followed three first-year teachers and examined how traditional and nontraditional teacher training programs prepare new teachers for life in the classroom.
This week in ESSA: Secretary King Testifies to Senate Committee. U.S. Secretary of Education John King testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) about the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Secretary King updated the committee on the negotiated rulemaking process that is currently underway for aspects of the law that address assessments, funding, and supplement-not-supplant rules. During the hearing, Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) pressed the secretary on a provision of the law that he argued prohibits the Department of Education prescribing goals for student achievement and graduation rates to the state.
This Week in ESSA: Department of Education Announces Grants to Improve Testing. Secretary King announced that states will be able to apply for $9 million in competitive grants to help them reduce and improve the tests they administer. Under the Enhanced Assessment Grant program, states will be able to apply for funding to develop new tests, rethink test scoring and reporting, or to examine tests already in place to eliminate redundant or low-quality tests. The announcement came as the department released a report highlighting efforts already underway in states and districts to scale back and improve testing. Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, states and districts have more flexibility to determine what to test for and how to administer tests.
We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of April 18, 2016. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.