Question(s) for Politicians & School Officials
​​
November/December 2017 Updated ​​

The Grand Old Party's (or the Republicans') silence -- when it comes to the actions of the President of the United States of America --- shows that they have placed their own special interests before the needs of American citizens --- or an ally or God or what happened to Jo Cox .  Does it really take leaders from around the world to lead the discussions against the president's most recent racist positions ?

And, what about the 25th Amendment recommendations that are growing popular around the world
calling for him to be removed from office, most recently, for failing to understand what a two-state solution is that recognizes  "both" Palestine and Israel or why " negotiated peace " talks are important? It makes one wonder if Trump would have supported Hitler, too as the way to appease his white nationalist voters in the same way that he is supporting his evangelical voters   ---  voters who share his mindset, such as Roy Moore (a present day believer in racism who states that the country was great and  headed in the right direction during slavery) --- voters who think certain groups are expendable.

Will the Grand Old Party ever explain why they also campaigned for a racist and misogynist, a politician who pursues young girls based on the testimonies of nine women? Will they still follow the lead of the POTUS in never criticizing Mr. Moore directly? Their silence can only be called an American embarassment and travesty on a global scale, including President Trump's hypocritical "visit" to a Mississippi civil rights museum, an act that could only ring hollow under the current circumstances. 

That the Republicans nor the POTUS, to date, have brought attention to the cruelty of slavery or the murders, rapes, beatings, forced breedings, kidnappings, forced prostitution and maiming of their fellow human beings, including the separation of families is further proof of  their current core priorities or directives that ignore racism and criminal acts against other humans, particularly young girls showing that they lack any awareness of ethics.  Their  "out of sight, out of mind" policy stances against African Americans also continue to reinforce the idea that none of these conservative politicians can make a clear distinction between the barbaric belief system of slave masters and any clear understanding of right or wrong, a view that makes their interpretation of Christianity or  what a Christian is confusing on many fronts. 

Inasmuch as the Republicans must remain mum or play dumb about Mr. Moore's need to gloss over the subjugation of African Americans or the abuse of young girls and/or his current positions on segregated schools, misogyny or the oppression of children and women, etc., the only question left for the public to ask is: how can the POTUS and the Republicans who are public servants keep justifying their support of a politician who is a well known racist and misogynist (the POTUS & Co. must be asked these questions, on a regular basis,  until the questions are answered. . .)? After all, the Republicans are supporting the funding of Mr. Moore's campaign  with the blessings of the POTUS.  

(Update on the Jones/Moore election: The Doug Jones win is a win not only for Doug Jones and Alabamians but a win for the United States of America against a brand of politics that finds its roots in racism and misogyny. From this perspective, Roy Moore's historical defeat will always be remembered and explained as the ongoing weakening of Trump's presidency or Trump's inability to influence or ensure a win for a GOP candidate. That African Americans voted in record numbers and were "mobilized and informed" in spite of voter suppression laws is a testimony to this fact.  Americans everywhere are applauding all of the Alabamian voters both black and white, young and old who stood in long lines to vote.  

In this light, the Doug Jones win allows most Americans, if not the world to breathe a sigh of relieve for many reasons, on behalf of America. Firstly, Doug Jones win will always be a reminder of what it takes to support high American standards for justice --- with all Americans in mind. This purpose is demonstrated by his prosecution and conviction of the homegrown white racist terrorists who murdered "Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins and Denise McNair as well as Addie Mae’s sister, Sarah Collins (Rudolph) who survived the explosion but lost her eye and the sixteen other people injured by the bomb." It was an election that did not diminish but  substantiated the shared American belief in human rights and basic human relations. 

But it was also an election about Moore's white supremacist beliefs ---  which  were all on trial --- beliefs that boldly seek to minimize the evilness or wickedness of slavery, including his ungodly belief that all of the amendments after the 10th amendment should end, which means he is against the "outlawing of slavery" throughout the nation. . .  It also means that he believes that white women as well African American men and women do not deserve to vote.  Is this a view of someone who believes in the United States of America & its Constitution? Who could support such a man? Unfortunately, the answer is the POTUS who campaigned for him and identified with Moore's beliefs and everything that he represents even though the majority of Americans reject Moore's views, a fact that must take into account Trump's own racist and  misogynistic tendencies .) 
 

Needless to say, most Americans do not think Trump is fit to serv e as the POTUS. While the Democrats are listening and responding to the public with calls for his resignation why is the GOP ignoring the public and once again choosing to remain silent about the state of his presidency?  The deciding factor for their decision should be the everyday drama that he attracts originating from his lack of morality or his white supremacist leanings (i.e., his racist tweets, his support of Moore, etc.), his misogyny (the complaints of 16 women and counting --- along with those with a NDA) and/or  his overall conflicts of interest as the POTUS.   Why is the GOP ignoring  his not so subtle hint(s) or clues about his need to collude with the Russians to change the result of an American election? Will they ever ask the POTUS to explain why he felt (or still feels) compelled to ignore what 17 intelligence agencies said about Russian's connection to the election?

Will they ask the POTUS, directly why so many of his staff had conversations with the Russians before the election? Will the GOP's actions or their complete utter desperation --- in trying to end the Mueller investigation provide the public --- if not the world --- with further proof that the GOP is also colluding with the president in trying to safeguard his presidency by any means possible (as if a coup or the theft of the presidency through an election of a super power could actually happen or he could actually get away it)?  If not, the GOP must allow the investigation to proceed so they, too do not look as if they have something to hide as elected officials, especially in light of the changing voting tide against the Republicans (i.e. Alabama, Virginia, New Jersey, etc.) or how they are governing when it comes to prioritizing  domestic issues or public schools. If they do, will the POTUS and his staff  finally explain that they "actually" all know more than they want to know --- or say they know, especially Flynn whose legacy can still be preserved if he supports the "greater good"of the nation? What will happen if the POTUS pardons Flynn, and trys to fire Rosenstein and Mueller? Will he, in the process, create a constitutional crisis ? Will elected officials finally have to impeach the POTUS for trying to to prevent the public from finding out the truth about his connection to Russia?  If not, will the Democrats keep speaking out against the GOP and its cowardly need to represent a president who  is surprised that the majority of Americans think that he is guilty of colluding with the Russians and guilty of stealing a presidency? The only way for elected officials to handle this U.S. nightmare or to redeem America's place as a super power is to ensure that the much needed Russian investigation remains in place, an investigation Americans deserve (if not, the world deserves for the sake of democratic principles and standards) --- and should continue to demand from their elected officials. 

And then there there is the tax bill --- and the GOP's shameless, undemocratic need to squash  an in-depth
debate on the bill before they voted on it, (which is  an absolutely amazing fact if you are paying attention to   the POTUS and the Republicans who do not think that public hearings are a necessary part of passing a bill ), a view that parents  and community stakeholders should consider when they vote if they do not want to be taken for granted or if they do not want to be seen as marginalized citizens. . .  For instance, will it increase income inequality? If so, what solutions will remedy this problem? What will Democrats do to address the GOP's  low standard for democracy? In other words, what will they do to address social exclusion or the ways in which the GOP has  prevented the public and the Democrats from discussing the bill in a timely manner, which is an un-American historical act in and of itself since the bill, according to many, will ultimately end the safety net for most Americans.  By now, the POTUS and the Republicans should know that they have lost all credibility (as proven by their very low approval ratings and their inability to tell the truth about the impact of their  political stances and/or to distinguish between bad decisions and good decisions, including their support of and silence about the racist, Roy Moore). To redeem themselves should they plan a  televised town hall discussion about this tax bill with trustworthy experts on hand (i.e., Steve Schmidt, a republican? Robert Reich, a democrat?) to verify, beyond a doubt,  that they  are not just thinking about themselves but the public, too? After all, Reagan took two full years to study and, in turn, promote tax reform. Presently, the POTUS and the GOP have not explained how the tax cuts (2 trillion dollars) will pay for themselves.

Essentially, in translation, it is a bill that allows republicans to use tax cuts as a U.S. cookie jar raid. This means that everyone from DeVos, McConnell, and Trump, etc.  grabbed everything that they could get or
steal --- at a cost  ---to the masses --- (without any recognition of  fairness and decency) so much so that they are still drunk from the power of the theft: its possibilities endless and astonishing --- as if American citizens would not notice. If the bill passes the cookie jar will go cookieless for some time based on the cost of the replacement of the cookies.  All Americans should call their elected officials and report this childlike escapade or thievery by children pretending to be politicians and ask how this type of undemocratic
standard could be supported in the United States of America --- while making definite  plans to vote in the next election against these politicians.

Certainly, these questions should reach beyond partisanship or the simple ways Trump's partisanship is creating divisions in America from the empty spaces at his (Trump's) inauguration to the empty seats at the lighting of the national Christmas tree for American families --- or, why --- in comparison,  both of these events were hugely popular for Obama who had a diverse crowd of citizens travelling from near and far to support him --- without excuses. Remaining hopeful, as a matter of course, then is an essential part of the American governmental equation for it allows "We the People" or American citizens to focus on "American Democracy" and, in the process, to understand  that we are "all in this together" even if Trump is the least popular president in American history and the GOP's creditability rating is below 20%. The question(s), therefore, must be:  Have all elected officials provided parents and community stakeholders with opportunity structures to learn about these tax concerns, etc. or how the tax bill will impact American families and the lives of children --- or public school systems throughout the nation?

From this perspective, if the Republicans did not provide all politicians "with a good faith effort" to review the bill or failed to provide opportunity structures for the public to ask questions about it (invitation only sessions do not count) then it is a bogus bill.  Given this fact, will American voters and Trump's voters, in particular  finally have the proof that they need to figure out that Trump is an incompetent leader, along with the Republicans as his accomplices who as conservatives are willing to give unethical tax cuts to the rich without trying to figure out what is actually legal or fair and decent for American citizens --- when all is said and done? Will Trump's voters who are not a monolithic group by any stretch of the imagination, especially since many of them voted for Obama, remain apathetic and distracted and, in turn, uninformed and expect nothing from Trump even though they voted for him? Will his racist voters still expect him to insult people of color as the easiest method  if not the ungodliest of ways to depend on their support even if Christianity, racism, misogyny, and Roy Moore's unrepentant acts, etc. do not go hand in hand. . .?

Will politicians demand higher standards from Trump whose unethical tendencies seem intertwined and normal for him showing that he cannot distinguish between right or wrong as demonstrated by his need to get away with obstruction of justice ( through tweets ?), racism, misogyny or bankruptcy after bankruptcy, and even his dealings with the  Deutsche Bank,   etc.?  Will his behavior become the new normal for politicians, along with a fragile type of egotistical mindset that must be fed, as a matter of course, without any consideration for its impact on the world by those who share his Trumpian value system, a value system that  seeks to divide rather than unite Americans? Will his value system birth a new type of U.S. authoritative leadership style thereby changing the America we all love into an America without democracy? Will he try to protect this mindset, by any means possible, from the possibility that his presidency, in actuality, never really happened since Mueller and the FBI, to date, have failed to recognize the rules of his bubble existence and all that it implies. Will he continue to retaliate against people of color for failing to believe that he is a superior being or  will people of color from black athletes to President Obama and/or blacks who live in the real world continue to show him, for the first time in his life, that his bubble house is imaginary --- a fact that Mueller & Company are teaching him the hard way.  

Under these conditions or in light of these national concerns, will voters overall realize that he is creating a two trillion dollar deficit (according to some estimates) and that he will need someone to pay for it over the long haul? Since it will not be the rich --- will Trump and other conservatives push for a "starve the beast theory" or approach (as they have mentioned in the past to address deficits) to compensate for the 2 trillion dollar deficit stemming from their own mind-boggling bad choices or tax bill? Will Trump and Company care that this "starve the beast" approach will, in turn, "drag their own voters, particularly their vulnerable voters or poor, uneducated whites into a new sort of economic abyss," without safety nets ( Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, healthcare, etc.)   --- if they have, already, boldly proven and demonstrated that they do not care if their voters have access to affordable health care? The answer is: no.  (King Ahab, please step aside --- Trump is here.) All of this will happen --- alongside the ongoing opioid crisis impacting Trump's voters, a crisis that he has basically ignored.

What should voters do? The only thing left for all Americans to do, if not the world to do, is to question their elected officials, publicly ​and, in the process, vote for politicians who embrace higher ideals rather than the low ideals that create a divided world based on income inequality, racism, misogyny, deception, etc.  They can also remember what W.E.B Dubois wanted Americans to know when he stated: “We are all Americans, not only by birth and by our citizenship --- but by our political ideals. And, the greatest of those ideals is that all men are created equal.”  

How will elected officials respond? How will elected officials who truly represent all Americans respond to their fellow politicians who, on the other hand, serve their own special interests, first and foremost based on their need for "things" stemming from greed --- or things --- that are diminished --- and/or pale in comparison to the horns on their heads? In other words, how will they respond to elected officials who bow down to golden calves --- or to their corporate donors, in particular (with the ink still not dry from the over 6000 lobbyists' input and/or still remaining written notes on this tax bill --- while no one else has really had the time to read it) at the expense of most Americans? Will they keep Trump's profound inability to lead at the center of America's transparency and accountability concerns with the response of voters in mind? Will they discuss whether or not the "center will hold" or if Trump could be the slouching beast (in the poem by William Yeats) headed toward Bethlehem (6 miles from Jerusalem)? Voting, needless to say, with widespread historical voting goals in mind --- in spite of unethical gerrymandering --- is the message that must be sent to these politicians. Please call your elected officials and then remember to --- Vote!




June/2017

Question:

Who's Interpreting ESSA, (our new national education law) for parents & community members in your state? (For ESSA review and feedback processes and concerns, please refer to the letter"  sent by Senator Patty Murray & Representative Bobby Scott to Secretary DeVos on July 28th. Also, review this letter that focuses on the necessity of equity goals in the state plans.

Are federal, state and school representatives disseminating information, promoting discussions and/or engaging the public "about the law" based on the views of school officials only? Please note: Asking questions about social inclusion/exclusion and equality --- or democracy should be necessary questions to ask in a public school-based context  --- if challenges  to previous or existing norms are to be addressed, (i.e., Consider the SBOE in D.C . who asked parents and community members to fill out applications so that "SBOE officials could choose" who would be on their ESSA Task
Force, a method that limits democracy. They also told parents and community members "who were not chosen for the task force" to send in their comments.  They could not, however,   participate or speak at the meetings.) Under these circumstances and/or to save invaluable time it is important to ask at the start of any state initiated process   if --- state educational leaders --- will be the only ones "ultimately" making "any and all" decisions in spite of the stakeholder engagement meetings

Again, knowing how stakeholder engagement meetings will be conducted and how agendas will be determined  --- or simply asking if certain provisions will be discussed at all (equity? implementation processes and timelines?), etc. --- should be considered critical questions that require immediate answers  for the sake of goal clarity,  inclusivity and especially in terms of the   evaluation of the participatory process . Most importantly, these mandatory questions set the stage for procedural justice and fairness  since: "consultation without attention to power and politics will lead to voice without influence. Furthermore, change or reform of political institutions without attention to (methods for) inclusion. . . will only reinforce the status quo."  (Gaventa).

Parents and community stakeholders or the public overall should, therefore, ask how participatory democracy  is being  promoted in states, districts and public schools.   With this statement in mind, should t he department of education , school officials or the  CCSSO make t he decisions about who gets to participate or who can essentially interpret ESSA for parents and community stakeholders? Keep in mind, it is one thing to provide information about ESSA but it is another thing all together to interpret it or to choose groups to interpret it for all parents and community stakeholders without their input on who these groups will be. 

Statement:
 
In response to the first question------ perhaps, they are nonprofits (chosen by the CCSSO or school representatives) who support school choice and charter schools. And yet, many parents and community stakeholders prefer school effectiveness over school choice and want some guarantee that equality, equity and excellence are school priorities. Given these facts, are school officials or leaders choosing people to interpret ESSA that they were not asked to choose? Are they, at the least, exposing parents and community stakeholders to a wide range of views --- supported by best practices and lessons learned --- beyond the longstanding biases of conservatives and teachers' unions or the narrow focus of the status quo agenda, especially at the state and local levels? If not, have they forgotten that as "public servants" their role, in essence, is to serve all children and, in turn, parents and community stakeholders, (a task that cannot be accomplished if they overlook the educational and political standpoints of marginialized communities)? 

With ESSA's emphasis on elevating the importance of decison-making at the the state and local levels to prevent federal overreach, it is critical that parents and community stakeholders interact with their state and local officials to decide what their overall state goals for supporting student achievement should be. To support procedural fairness, for instance, all stakeholders should become familiar with state, district and school-based past failures to better understand how these concerns were addressed (if they were addressed) in the hope that these mistakes, at the least, will not be repeated. Furthermore,  state and local school offiicals should be expected to discuss with the stakeholders the school-based factors that have marginalized, if not
excluded, weakened or overlooked the voices of parents and community stakeholders and the ways in which these practices have changed. Parent and community stakeholder views are critically important for they are their children's first or most immediate teachers and, therefore, have a lot to contribute to school-based conversations  --- even if their views differ, if not clash with the views of state officials, school leaders, teachers’ unions, lobbyists, etc. Moreover, it does not help matters at all when the school boards sound remarkably similar to the teachers' unions --- at the start and end of any engagement process --- or listening/learning tour(s) focusing on the needs of stakeholders. The operative words, in this sense, for these processes, should be "stakeholder engagement" not status quo involvement or engagement. 

To address this concern, parents and community stakeholders must understand how their views will be promoted, interpreted and counted in comparison to the views of teachers' unions, etc. They should also understand how state and local educational systems have equalized the playing field so that they, too can influence educational and political decisions tied to student achievement --- in the same way that teachers' unions and lobbyists do.  Clearly, no group should be placed in a position to declare that it represents all parents and community stakeholders nor should any one group determine the final state plans --- if  procedural fairness is the goal. This goal, of course, includes determining what lessons learned and best practices are in relationship to all children, especially underserved children (rather than allowing the political stances and biases of special interest groups to determine decisions). From this perspective, all decisions must be backed by a thorough systemic, research-based analysis pertaining to school-based decisions and the fair distribution of resources in districts ---- to ensure that children are served, first and foremost --- and/or to determine how these decisions will play out on the ground in schools --- or in reality --- based on the motivation and political will of school representatives. 
 
A case in point begins with ESSA’s omission of federally mandated teacher evaluations (Teachers' Unions fought for this provision.): states, instead, must decide how teacher effectiveness will be defined. More importantly, states must determine how parents and community members define or will define teacher effectiveness. What if the definition parents and community stakeholders choose includes holding teachers accountable for student performance? What if they want teachers’ evaluations tied to student test results even if teachers' unions do not? What if parents and community stakeholders think schools cease to be schools if teacher evaluations are watered down and lack meaning? (Note: The unions think the socioeconomic status of all children predetermines student achievement. They also do not think that low scores have anything to do with teacher performance in classrooms.) (Consider New Mexico, etc.). 

What if parents and community stakeholders want super data groups eliminated so they can tell who specifically needs targeted interventions --- and school officials, in spite of ESSA's requirements, still fail to count certain subgroups or even mask their performance  as they have done in the past?  What if parents and community members want and need school ratings that ensure that academic measures are the bulk of a state's plan  --- even if school officials do not?  And, what about useful indicators that differ from the choices of school officials? What if parents and community stakeholders want indicators that focus on  a leadership governance analysis and teaching analysis rather than ones that simply focus on the school climate or student engagement as educators want but without any mention of of race relations or classism (refer to Gaventa)? What if they want meaningful timelines that correspond to the educational needs of students rather than educators Note: Thus far, state timelines will cause students to wait more than a year or two (after ESSA’s passage in 2015) to benefit from its goals.).
 
How will they define what an underperforming school is, along with the timeline for a school to be designated as an underperforming school  --- and what if parents and community stakeholders want fines or penalities associated with accountability mechanisms? Will they want the 95% participation rate rather than the 67% rate for tests, attendance and graduation rates upheld in their state, especially since the push-out rates increase without goals and targets in place? And, what do they think about high-quality standards that states no longer have to demonstrate that they have --- since under this new law they only have to provide an "assurance" that they are implementing challenging standards? 
 
The 2nd, 3rd and 4th questions (focusing on  why should parents and community stakeholders must pay attention to how ESSA is being interpreted) ---  are all political questions that address the wide variety of special interest groups or lobbyists, at play, in the public education system.  For example, state officials, in the past, developed "low standards" (rather than ones that supported college and career ready standards) to ensure that their students could pass state assessments --- (a political strategy that was meant to protect their jobs. And yet, it was an ineffective stategy from the start for to rationalize this strategy they had to depend on deficit models , including but limited to:   racist theories (page 3 - cross-referenced or based on the literary imagination) , name calling  or stereotypes of the very children they were charged with serving --- in an effort to explain away their students' low test scores. This, of course, was and is a horrible practice for it  intentionally overlooks weak state, district, and school-based strategies tied to student achievement. (Is it any wonder that the college dropout rate is high in the U.S.?) Most of all, it is a  strategy that creates a domino effect that leads to a modified curriculum in classrooms and low pass scores on state tests or the PISA, NAEP, etc. --- or even the school to prison pipeline ---  produced by high dropout rates if schools are not the genuine article.

And still --- In this political environment --- where far too many educators have shortchanged children for decades ( and are still supporting some of these same strategies ) very few of them have brought up the most recent U.S. test scores (a type of accountability mechanism useful to stakeholders if not conservative politicians and teachers' unions) that are low for all groups on the most recent NAEP and PISA assessments in comparison to other nations. That the achievement gap has not improved for over forty years (according to many groups) means that that there is an urgent need for parents and community stakeholders to focus on what school officials actually do to support student achievement. Perhaps, research groups chosen by parents and community stakeholders should provide insights in support of the best decision-making processes or strategies for public schools since school leaders and officials often fail to address this need or fail to produce how (gold standard?) research or its effective implementation is monitored and supported --- if best practices are effectively implemented at all (especially in relationship to underserved schools... Consider the current state standards in some states or their failure to ensure that all students have research-based textbooks aligned to high-quality standards. Stakeholders should also ask why the teachers' unions and their lobbyists do not have campaigns that emphasize class ready teachers --- or demand research-based books for all students, etc.). 

In other words, before anyone states that the overall buy-in or the legitimacy of any final decisions were approved by parents and community stakeholders, it would make more sense for them to first ask if they were involved in the development of the plans and if they had an understanding of the issues.  Why? It is their children who will have to live with the ultimate results and consequences of school-based decisions --- decisions that must be based on the best solutions for all children (rather than the agendas of  special interest groups). To ensure that this type of process occurs parents and community stakeholders must demand that school officials create the opportuniity spaces for transparency, accountability, responsiveness and answerability, a key step that allows these concerns to take center stage in school govenance, discourse and decision-making in a timely manner. (Note: This discussion assumes that states and local school systems already have processes in place that support parents and community stakeholders in gaining access to a wide range of information, including the pros and cons of a particular issue. If state and local officials have not addressed this need: how can parents and community members talk about key subjects --- if they do not know what they do not know. . .? How can they sit at the tables where decisions are made --- before the decisions are made, if they have not been exposed to certain critical, if not controversial issues through training programs? How can their involvement lead to genuine input or authenic inquiries if they do not understand all aspects of pertinent accountability concerns?

Unfortunately, parents and community stakeholders already know that the very point of their presence (as participants) at school meetings is often missed or diminished when school representatives simply expect them to mimic or think and say what school representatives want them to say without any need for them to build their knowledge base, (a taboo point but one that needs to be discussed since it overlooks U.S. democratic ideals --- or the educative value of democracy.).  Moreover, since there has never been any formal recognition, to date, of the necessity of truly separating the law or ESEA/ESSA from politics --- the best solution should involve opportunity structures for a wide range of groups to take on the role of promoting ESSA in open forums or in workshops, etc. where the pros and cons of all pertinent subjects are challenged and explored from different angles, in depth. (Note: State and local websites only serve a limited amount of stakeholders and are not thorough or an effective way to reach all stakeholders). In fact, if politicians, unions and lobbyists, etc. are the only ones expected to determine how schools are run in certain states, districts and schools, this practice should change for it has not worked in the past and it is not working now.  The public must step up and take back its role as equal partners in schools by becoming informed and educated about equity and excellence in schools --- stances that should be backed by lessons learned as well as gold and evidenced-based research --- even if Trump has banned gold standard research for school choice voucher studies in D.C.???).

With these goals in mind, it is time for all stakeholders and/or the public to join the conversations centering on ESSA --- or to move pass one-dimensional viewpoints or superficial conversations about school-based concerns. It's time to figure out if
school leaders and teachers are, indeed, supporting school equity and excellence in classrooms as well as promoting effective district and state governance goals, particularly in the development of policies and practices that address the achievement gap.
It is time to figure out how on earth school, district and state representatives can hold themselves accountable for state accountabilty plans (a clear conflict of interest)--- if the public is not engaged in this process and/or if they do not provide a wide range of public spaces for discussions focusing on ESSA at the state and level levels --- including per pupil spending, local budgets and overall state funding.  And still, even after the discussions are completed, they must also figure out if the overall process was fair, egalitarian and/or based on procedural justice. If parents and community stakeholders were never exposed to and trained by organizations or individuals with a track record of supporting public school children, particularly underserved children but only exposed to  the status quo and its interpretation of ESSA  ---  the process was flawed.  When all is said and done then, the standpoint of parents and community stakeholders count, too. . .  They, of course, know that   equality and democratic ideals create the foundaton for participation, a fact that proves why parents, community stakeholders and public school students must be included in any process focusing on  transparency and accountability in the public school system . . .


Previous Questions:

Statement:
 

Please refer to the April 12th Senate Hearing for more details... Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated, at the hearing, that it would cost 3.9 billion or a complete overhaul of state and local financial systems to equalize spending between schools, an impossible idea not worthy of consideration, from his perspective. He abruptly left his argument there without mentioning what the future holds for public school children, specifically poor children or how they can truly be served , if at all. (Note: He also mentioned that there was a huge coalition of educational organizations that did not want the comparability loophole addressed ---from unions to state organizations.) 

In other words, he never mentioned the purpose of Title One. He never mentioned poor children --- who just happen to be the beneficiaries of Title One.  Clearly, when this omission is addressed or the children are added to the equation or discussions, the comparability loophole will become more than just a loophole: it will become  legalized theft for it allows imbalances or inequities in school funding to continue so that funds intended for poor children show up in low poverty schools, which clearly is not or was not the original intent of Title One (or President Johnson's War on Poverty). This gaming of the system has been allowed to go on for decades, which, in essence, wants the the public to believe (if they know at all) that "all teachers are created equal." If they are equal (when it comes to teacher effectiveness tied to student achievement or test results) why is there a loophole in place allowing the majority of effective, tenured teachers --- or productive teachers to be placed in low poverty schools rather than in high poverty schools? ESSA is silent on this issue. Given this fact, states only have to respond to public reporting requirements to  ensure that the public knows where inexperienced teachers are placed throughout districts --- unless states utilize the flexibility provision to support the fair distribution of effective teachers, a goal that conservative politicians and conservative teachers's unions are against. It is, therefore, up to the public to demand this change --- otherwise, in spite of the reauthorization of ESSA, everything will remain unchanged. 

For instance:

         The federal government prohibits districts from calculating comparability using actual                                expenditures. Instead, it chooses to treat teachers as interchangeable widgets. For example, if School          A has 10 teachers and School B has 10 teachers, they must be providing a comparable education. It            is this loophole in federal law—the “comparability loophole”—that is at the heart of school funding              inequities.  (Refer to: Robert Hanna, Max Marchitello, and Catherine Brown, March 2015 )

During the hearing, Senator Alexander did say that the only recourse is for parents and stakeholders to use the ESSA reporting requirement (a requirement that addresses transparency and accountability concerns) to demand answers (and/or thorough explanations) about --- (I would say): the methodologies that states and local districts are using to equalize spending between schools including how they are supporting the supplement not supplant p rovisions. Clearly, they must focus on questions that underscore equality or the fair distribution of effective teachers in schools where low income students attend.

QUESTION(S)


What methodologies are your states and local districts using to equalize spending between schools? How are they eliminating disparities between schools "before" they receive any Title One funds? For instance, what actual expenditures are districts spending on teachers' salaries and benefits (based on the fair distribution of effective, tenured teachers in each school) before they receive federal  supplemental Title One funds? Are these methods fair and equitable? If not, how can the ESSA state flexibility provisions address these inequities?


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Previous Questions:

Do State Departments of Education  have the capacity (and political will) to develop high quality state standards, state curriculums, and state assessments? Do they have the capabilities to turn around low performing schools, in a timely manner, (or even to respond to mandated reporting requirements about school funding formulas or how the fair distribution of resources are being addressed) without federal interventions?
Hint: Senator Alexander seems convinced that all states can do the job but recent statistics work against his "off the cuff" statements. Consider this study or this article or this one ----   including:  The State - How Leadership Influences Student Learning  as well as others as you debate this topic.   From the archives,: click here for information on previous information on  turnaround schools