In 2014, teachers were upset about excessive standardized tests, women were upset about campus sexual assault, kids were upset about gross school lunches. Republicans were split over Common Core, Democrats divided over teachers unions.
Here are five education-related issues to watch in the New Year.
1. Common Core The multistate education standards will continue to dominate the education debate.
After peaking in participation with 46 states, 2014 saw the tide for Common Core start to recede for the first time, as Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina all repealed the standards and moved to replace them with new ones, while Missouri and North Carolina created panels that could end in the replacement of the standards as well.
Don’t expect the fights to stop this year, especially since 2015 will mark the first year most states use standardized tests aligned with Common Core. With the new legislative season about to begin, many Republican lawmakers around the country are girding up for another assault. Bills aiming to repeal or substantially modify Common Core are being prepared in Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and numerous other states.
2. No Child Left Behind reform For over a decade, K-12 education has been a marginal issue at best in Congress. The biggest reason for that: No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
The law, passed with bipartisan support in 2001, is now almost universally seen as broken thanks to mandating standards, such as universal proficiency in math and reading, that have proven impossible to reach. Dissatisfaction is so high that Arne Duncan’s Education Department has virtually suspended much of the law by handing out legally dubious waivers from its tougher requirements.
In 2015, however, there are promising signs that the partisan gridlock that prevented any update to the law may finally be breaking down. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who will be taking over the Senate’s education committee, has declared an NCLB update his top priority, and he wants to attack the issue fast, potentially having a bill up for debate before the end of January.
Continues on LibertyUnyielding