Richard Allen Smith opened by observing that "we can see the finish line" for ending NCLB. Then he handed the conference off to Kusler.
Kusler used the word "historic" roughly six billion times, noting among other things that this was the first education conference committee meeting since about 2008, with a full conference committee meeting further still in the past.
Who was naughty
She also noted that it was bipartisan and bicameral about a thousand times (my notes are sloppy). She did note that the bill came out of committee with just one nay vote, and that nay-voter was Rand Paul.
The language NEA keeps using to praise the bill which Kusler echoed is that every child will have access to quality education regardless of their zip code. She thinks ESSA will do that. She's apparently kind of an optomist.
Kusler noted that NEA had "three buckets" that marked their goals:
1) reduce testing and divorce it from high stakes
2) maximize multiple measures, noting that everyone loved the disagregated data of NCLB, but we should also be noting if all subgroups are getting art class and guidance counselors, and not just test scores.
3) when educators have a voice, students do better. Looking out for the profession. That kind of thing.
Senate vote next week. It will pass overwhelmingly. Rumors are that the Pres could be signing this by the end of next week. We are on the cusp of changing the federal government's role and insuring quality education etc etc every child.
Dropping her rose colored glasses for more accurate ones, Kusler noted that the President signing this bill is not the end but merely the beginning. Implementation will be key. I will give my Senator a crisp twenty dollar bill if he can work in a provision that we don't have to hear the word "implementation" in the ed world for the next ten years.
The I Word
Harris-Aikensspoke will be the NEA implementation czar. She says there's a lot of opportunity built into this bill, pushing down responsibility so that state and local education folks have to decide what assessment should look like. She notes that there are pieces that guarantee educator (by which she means more than teachers) voice will be critical.
Note too that early education and community schools play an important role in there somewhere.
NEA will be developing a suite of materials for parents and teachers will be able to use, and teachers will help make them, and I resisted the urge to ask if they would be a crappy as the junk NEA banged out in support of Common Core.
Actually, most folks resisted the urge to ask questions. I don't know. It's always hard to ask questions when you can't read or see the room, but fortunately, Leonie Haimson was there, and she asked:
What about special ed and ELL?
The answer was illuminating to me. The old rule is that only 1% of Students with disabilities could be proficient. The new rule is that only 1%
Waivers can be granted on state and federal level. I suspect this will all end up in a court somewhere, but NEA seems to think IDEA has gotten the upper hand.
What about social impact bonds?
Leonie asked this too. The answer is A) NEA thinks these sucks and B) that old NEA favorite, you should have seen it before we got involved. Apparently SIB references were spread like crabgrass through the bill, and now are weeeded back to only two references in some specific locations. So, bad, but could have been worse?
And that was it. Quick and over in about 30 minutes, slightly illuminating. Particularly the Rand Paul part.