On Wednesday, AEI and the Center for American Progress (CAP) held a briefing on Capitol Hill to explain what key — but often overlooked — changes could be made to markedly improve the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The recent U.S. Senate and House of Representatives bills to reauthorize ESEA have focused solely on issues of school accountability and teacher evaluations. But AEI’s Rick Hess and CAP’s Raegen Miller argue that closer attention to the many obscure fiscal requirements may have the biggest impact on day-to-day life in America’s schools.
Miller walked the audience through five important changes that might, in Rick Hess’s works, “create conditions for school improvement:”
• Title I should simplify the manner in which states and districts demonstrate that federal Title I dollars supplement, and do not supplant, state and local investment in schools.
• Districts that receive Title I funds should be required to annually report all school-level expenditures — including all dollars devoted to teacher salaries — to the Department of Education to promote transparency about how those Title I dollars are being used.
• To receive Title I funds, states must be required to disclose per pupil spending at the state-, district- and school-level alongside the test-based metrics that are commonly used on school report cards.
• School districts should be given increased flexibility to negotiate contracts with external companies that provide supplemental education services such as tutoring.
• Alternative (outside) providers should be allowed to perform duties traditionally performed by state education agencies — such as turning around a struggling school — if they are better equipped for the task and willing to commit to meeting higher performance targets. Funding would be contingent on the results.
Event moderator Alyson Klein of Education Week reminded staff that ESEA is likely to see little legislative action this year, which gives Capitol Hill staff the chance to explore what “in-the-weeds” changes might be made to improve ESEA.
-- Jenna Schuette Talbot
When it comes to reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the conversation has focused almost entirely on accountability and teacher evaluation systems. But what about other important issues like parent involvement and making education spending more efficient and productive? Or the obscure fiscal requirement that places large burdens on school districts, yet doesn’t quite meet its goal of promoting fairness?
Rick Hess of AEI and Raegen Miller of the Center for American Progress have jointly commissioned and published a series of papers exploring these topics — now, they are teaming up to explore what changes might allow ESEA to fulfill its aims without ensnaring educators and local officials in a frustrating legal labyrinth.
Join us for a lively discussion of these overlooked but critical issues, moderated by Alyson Klein of Education Week.