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Five Education Stories to Watch in 2013

Five Education Stories to Watch in 2013

1. Questions about school safety surfaced almost immediately following the unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. at the end of 2012.  The school had strong safety protocols in place, but they were no match for a shooter with military-style weapons.

In 2013, look for more soul-searching conversations and concomitant action about school safety. Parents have an absolute right to expect that when they send their children to school, they will be safe and secure, and that they will be returned to them at the end of the day in the same condition. But this heated debate involves much more than amending school safety plans. On one side are the gun control advocates and on the other are the proponents of arming not only guards – but teachers and administrators, too. Where this argument will go is anybody’s guess, but it’s sure to dominate the education and political news this year.

2. High-stakes testing was in the news in 2012. While many national policy and opinion makers favored testing as a way to reform the educational system, those in the trenches disagreed. For example, parents organized boycotts against testing and local boards of education passed resolutions against testing.

The National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing has been endorsed by more than 13,700 individuals and 460 organizations. It calls on the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act, “reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.”

In 2013, expect the debate to heat up as more academics and education writers line up against high-stakes testing.

3. In addition, the related issue of teacher evaluations will continue to be hotly debated as teacher unions persist in questioning the wisdom of linking evaluations to testing.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo set a deadline of Jan. 17, 2013, for local school districts and unions in New York to agree on a teacher evaluation plan following the parameters set down in state legislation. If not, Cuomo warned, they would lose state aid. Only about 250 of the state’s 700 districts had approved plans as of Dec. 1.

4. Although 45 states have adopted Common Core standards, sponsored by the National Governors Association for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the implementation, cost, and quality of these assessments were increasingly under fire in 2012. Some believe Tony Bennett was defeated as Indiana’s state superintendent of education because of his support for Common Core.

In 2013, watch for news about grassroots efforts in several states against Common Core. Some states may even withdraw from the program, due to issues with the standards and assessments themselves, as well as the perception by some that they are a federal intrusion into education.

5. Parent/Family Engagement in schools made the news in 2012 with educators increasingly turning their attention to how to actively involve parents in their children’s education. On the other hand, a number of states adopted Parent Trigger legislation, which was passed to enable parents to take over schools -- although most of these have been challenged in court.

The efficacy of the Parent Trigger will be debated and tested in 2013 amid concerns from educators that real reform efforts must include the professionals.

I wish you a happy, healthy, safe, and successful new year!!!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

pampatriot March 11, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Lisa, my school district is West Islip. West Islip is still facing a financial debacle, even after closing two elementary schools. Our district brought in IB in 2010 and we still have yet to have one IB diploma graduate. We have over 60 AP scholars graduating a year. AP has always been the highly prized program of choice for honors students especially. 200,000. a year is no small chump change, especially in light of the great AP program we have always had which costs nothing to the tax payers in our community, just the students who pay to take the exams. Also, one of our BOE members claims to want to bring the IB programme into our middle schools too. Not if I have anything to say about it. This school district cannot afford another huge mistake like bringing in this programme, the tax payers have had enough!
Chris Wendt March 11, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Where does IB belong? In private schools which are based on that discipline; NOT in public schools in NY.
pampatriot March 17, 2013 at 11:06 PM
get rid of the CCC
Dad of Three March 18, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Fortunately, Common Core Curriculum will help to lead the US out of its global student achievement deficiency relative to other industrial nations. Our kids deserve no less, and those who attempt to impede CCC are just displaying ignorance.
pampatriot March 18, 2013 at 07:27 PM
I'm displaying my ignorance. You speak for your own kids. I never liked Kool aid, looks like you buy a lot of it.

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