The League of Women Voters of the Jackson Area (LWVJA) completed their consensus questions over two Hot Topics meetings in October and November. Their responses with comments are included below.
Despite the controversial nature of the topics and the differences of opinions voiced throughout the discussions, the League engaged in constructive and respectful dialogue coming to consensus on most of the items discussed. The Study Chair would like to thank all of the participants and the leaders with the LWVJA for being so attentive, engaged, and thoughtful in these meetings! It was a model for civil dialogue and collective problem-solving! Congratulations to all!
1. The current role of the federal government in public education is About Right
2. What should be the role of the federal government in public education? (Ranked)
1-To ensure that all students preK-12 receive a quality education
2-To mandate Common Core Standards for all students K-12
3-To monitor state efforts for funding
4-To develop accountability measures that will study the progress of all students so that they achieve adequate yearly progress
5-To measure teacher effectiveness through test data
3. A quality public education is important to perpetuate a strong and viable democracy. Strongly Agree
Common Core Standards
4. Currently the governors and state education officers have developed Common Core Standards that are national but not federal. Should the standards be mandated of the states in order to obtain federal funding? All (Special grant programs such as Race to the Top, All programs under Elementary and Secondary Education Act where the needs qualify for funding, and All programs receiving federal funding from any source)
5. Should there be a national assessment aligned with the common cores standards? Yes (Comment: The group expressed a preference for portfolio assessment approaches; however, they had concerns about the feasibility and costs associated with these approaches.) If Yes, Should implementation be voluntary or federally mandated? Mandated, if fully funded
6. National standards should lead to: A suggested structure for states and local education agencies to develop their own curriculum. (Comment: Many participants expressed interest in the following statement but were able to find consensus with the previous statement: “A national curriculum that is only suggested but not mandated.”)
7. What role should the national assessment consortia play in student evaluation? (Ranked)
The group could not come to consensus on these items. They did reach consensus on the highest priority: “Provide an assessment system that is aligned to the Common Core Standards.” However, all of the remaining items were considered important but not in a way that the group could reach consensus on their relative rankings: Provide comparison data showing progress toward reaching Common Core Standards, Provide criteria for determining readiness for college and careers, Provide information to students, parents, teachers and school districts about student achievement,Provide diagnostic information on each child,
8. Data from the national assessments are often difficult for parents, teachers and others to understand. If we have a national assessment, what information is most important to be reported to parents, teachers, students and the community? Data should be “criterion referenced” and clearly informative so that teachers, parents, and students know how individual students have mastered criteria established at a national level.
9. Information from nationally required assessment data should be used to: Inform districts how their population compares to others similar to theirs.
Funding and Equity
10. In the past most of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funding has been non-competitive based on need. All/Any Schools that prove they fall under the federal guidelines for funding receive those funds. However, competitive grants are now being proposed to states/districts who meet certain federal requirements, such as Race to the Top. Which would be appropriate: combination of non-competitive and competitive grants
11. If the federal government’s role is the concern of the “common good” then: combination of funded mandates and grants should apply.
12. Equity in public education means equitable access to: (Rank order)
1-high quality teaching/learning
2-adequate and current learning materials
3-clean and well maintained physical facilities
4-food and health care
5-safe and secure neighborhoods
13. Currently Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funding is considered “categorical” rather than for general use. This means that it can only be used with special populations for special purposes. ESEA should remain targeted toward poverty and special needs. Strongly Agree
14. The federal government has a role in supporting early childhood education, birth to 5, for all children? Strongly Agree
15(a). Federal support for early childhood education programs (e.g., Head Start, Title I, Special Education, Early Start) should include funding for parent education and support regarding child development, child health and nutrition, and access to other supportive services, such as mental health as needed. Strongly Agree
15(b). This funding should be extended to: Special Needs First