Common Core, Community Feedback, Worldwide Drop in Education Aid, Student Writing Contest

Education Town Hall News Briefs for June 20, 2013:
Common Core ImplementationAccess to Schooling Jeopardized by Aid Reductions
“No such thing as too much discussion”The Nation‘s Writing Contest: Deadline June 30
Plus: DC Citizens, don’t miss your opportunity to testify on education legislation

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The Nation’s Student Writing Contest

“It’s clear that the political system in the US isn’t working for many. If you had to pick one root cause underlying our broken politics, what would it be and why?”

The Nation’ annual writing contest invites high school and college students to answer this question. Entries will be accepted through Saturday, June 30, 2013. Winners will be announced by Monday, September 9. Details.

Common Core Implementation:

Education Week follows DC Public Schools

How school districts move the Common Core State Standards from the central office into classrooms can make or break the undertaking. Education Week spent six months reporting on how the District of Columbia’s vision of the common-core English/language arts standards is being put into practice in one 8th grade classroom at one school, Stuart-Hobson Middle School on Capitol Hill. In this chat, the writer of the series, Catherine Gewertz, discussed the challenges that states and districts face as they implement the new standards.

transcript of the June 17 chat (free of charge)

“The tippity-top of DCPS is, of course, very pro-common-core,” Gewerz reported in answer to an on-line question. “They recognize the hard parts of the work they’re asking folks to do, and the difficulties with capacity that they face.”

Gewerz added, however, that there are a range of opinions at the school level — with some teachers “bigger fans of the common core” than others — and “even [teachers] who love it experience the shift being very hard, often without enough support or time to feel they’ve really ‘got it.’”

Here is an overview of the three-part series on Common Core implementation. Most materials are available only to subscribers, but Education Week offers a two-week free subscription. A fourth installment is due after test results arrive in August.

Access to Schooling Jeopardized by Aid Reductions

Hopes of achieving universal primary education worldwide are threatened, according to a report released earlier this month, by a drop in aid to education.

A policy paper — Global Education for All, issued jointly by the Education For All Global Monitoring Report and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization‘s Institute for Statistics — discusses aid trends and consequences: Aid was rising between 2002 and 2010, it then dropped, and it is now at a standstill.

This new data show that the world is unlikely to fulfill one of the most modest commitments: to get every child in school by 2015,” from the Global Education for All report

South and West Asian countries reduced the number of children not in school by two-thirds, from 40 million in 1999 to just 12 million in 2011. Elsewhere, however, the report is bleak:

In Arab States, Central Asia, South and West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa about half of all out-of-school children will probably never enter school. In Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America and Western Europe, most out- of-school children will start school late. East Asia and the Pacific and South and West Asia have large shares of early school leavers….

This paper serves as a wake-up call for donors. Aid to education is decreasing at a time when 57 million children are denied their right to education, almost half of whom are expected never to enter a classroom.

The finance gap for basic education has increased by US$10 billion over the last three years, primarily because aid donors have not kept their promises. The new aid data presented in this paper show that this year, aid donors are still not meeting their commitments.

If we do not get it right by 2015, how can we get it right after that date, and get not just all children but also all adolescents into school? The energies being rallied to consider what plans and targets should be set for the future of our children must ensure sufficient financing to achieve them. This is why we are calling for the post-2015 goals to include a specific target for financing by aid donors. Otherwise, children will continue to pay the price.


“No such thing as too much discussion”

DC Council Member David Catania, who chairs the Education Committee, “believes that there is no such thing as too much discussion or focus on the issue” of education,” says Benjamin Young, Catania’s chief of Staff. And so, the the Committee Chair is hosting a series of summer conversations on “The Future of Public of Education in the District of Columbia.”

The announcement includes no details about content or format. Asked about the relationship of these meetings to the current education legislative agenda — seven wide-ranging bills will be considered this summer — and how the input will be used, Young responded:

If members of the public wish to discuss the Committee’s legislative agenda at the events, CM Catania will be delighted to receive their feedback and explain his motivation in making the proposals. The feedback of educators, parents, and other members of the public has shaped, and will continue to shape the Committee’s agenda. These conversations are for the purpose of receiving more of it.

Catania’s office had no direct response to a query about how these conversations build on last summer’s Quality Schools Conversations — organized by the Deputy Mayor for Education — or if/how input from last year’s gatherings, to which hundreds of citizens shlepped in last summer’s heat, is being used.

Conversations are scheduled, one in each ward, from July 13 to August 6.

Crucial Note on DC’s Education “Conversations”

The District of Columbia is considering seven important bills relating to schools, school financing, and school property this summer. Education Committee hearings on these matters are the opportunity for citizens to testify in public and have remarks entered into the Committee proceedings. Publicly presented remarks and any written (or electronic) testimony is shared with every member of the committee and entered into the public record. Ordinarily, the public record remains open for a few days following any hearing date for citizens who cannot attend in person or have additional material to include.

These Committee hearings, scheduled for July 2-11 — and the opportunity be heard, officially, as part of the District’s legislative process — will be over before the “Conversations” start.

Converse (see above), by all means, from July 13-August 6. But don’t miss your chance to submit official testimony — in person or in writing — on any of the seven bills being considered by the Education Committee. Contact Committee Director (Brendan Williams-Kief — bwilliamskief at or Deputy Director (Erika Wadlington — ewadlington at to be entered on the witness list or for testimony instructions.

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