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This memo responds to the Trump Administration’s announcement of its intention to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program over the next 6 months. That action, which is expected to be challenged in court, does not in any way undercut the clear legal rights of undocumented students to attend K-12 public schools free of impediment and harassment. This memo outlines the settled rights of students, regardless of immigration status, to equal access to public education.

Advancing ESSA’s goals – equity and excellence – will require as much attention to teaching and leadership as to accountability, standards, and assessment.  Learning Forward and EducationCounsel’s new toolkit, A New Vision for Professional Learning, helps states use ESSA to establish learning systems in schools that transform educator practice and improve student learning.  The toolkit includes an overview of ESSA’s provisions on  professional learning, checklists for states aligned to the five conditions states must establish to improve professional learning, and a number of new tools to establish a state vision for professional learning, examine current investments, and write a question in ESSA local plans that gets at the heart of professional learning that works.


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September 07, 2017

Secretary Riley joins bipartisan group of former Secretary’s of Education asking Congressional leadership to quickly act to protect those in the DACA program.

Read the full letter.


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I’ll never forget the first lessons I witnessed as a student teacher in a 4th grade classroom that, already in elementary school, embodied the notion of college and career ready preparation. The classroom had a mix of students of all abilities and backgrounds, including many students with disabilities and many who had just arrived in this country. These fourth graders were learning about geography, topography, and how to read maps – a set of lessons designed to help them master rigorous state and district standards. Desks were clustered in groups around the classroom — some at computers, some at art stations, some around maps, and some around writing materials – all different ways to engage with, learn, and apply geography concepts.

Helping each and every child master a college and career ready set of knowledge and skills like these should be the “North Star” in states, districts, and schools.As states (this year), and then districts (next year), develop, implement, and continuously improve over time their plans under ESSA, these 20 questions can help determine whether they are leveraging ESSA to the maximum extent possible towards college and career ready learning and equity.

Students who needed it received more individualized supports and instruction from the teacher, including in evidence-based peer interaction techniques and academic supports. As students learned the concepts, they also had to figure out how to collaborate, create, and write-up their projects together. There was no sitting at desks and memorizing geographic terms for a quiz – but, by the end of the unit, these students all demonstrated their deep knowledge of geography and map skills in a meaningful way. And that’s not all they knew. They had practiced working with each other, testing and communicating their ideas, peer editing, and problem-solving – doing the things people are expected to be able to do on the job and in life today.

August 3 2017
By Art Coleman

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice [DoJ] is taking steps “toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.” The DoJ responded with indications that its effort was aimed at one case on behalf of Asian-American students—a position, according to the Times, that was greeted with some skepticism by others. While there is much more to learn about the Department’s planned action here, we should take this opportunity to reflect on the fact that time-tested, common sense principles derived from settled federal law continue to inform the work of higher education institutions today, just as they did last week…and last year.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s near 40-year history on the consideration of race- and ethnicity in higher education admissions (going all the way back to the landmark Bakke case in 1978) has shaped action by the U.S. Department of Justice and Education for decades–including in federal regulations, policy guidance, and enforcement resolutions (from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights).

1. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, 2013, and again in 2016 has embraced as “compelling” the substantial body of research affirming that the educational benefits associated with student diversity (enhanced teaching and learning, preparation for a 21st Century global economy and workforce, among other things) are “substantial” and “real.” And, in 2003 and in 2016, it specifically upheld challenged practices involving the consideration of race in admissions. Moreover, dozens of briefs filed by Fortune 500 companies, military officials, higher education institutions, and others, have helped shape the Court’s judgments, particularly with respect to the positive effects of diversity and the imperative of achieving sufficient student diversity so that all students benefit–on campus and beyond.

2. The U.S. Supreme Court’s near 40-year history on the consideration of race- and ethnicity in higher education admissions (going all the way back to the landmark Bakke case in 1978) has shaped action by the U.S. Department of Justice and Education for decades–including in federal regulations, policy guidance, and enforcement resolutions (from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights). Taken together, this body of guidance affirms the core principles associated with the benefits of diversity aims and sanctions consideration of all aspects of an student’s application–including race–in appropriate circumstances. Notably, these actions have reflected important bi-partisan baselines, including notable policy guidance on race-conscious scholarships (in 1994) that was initially drafted during the George W. Bush Administration and then finalized during the Clinton Administration.


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