Pages tagged "Education"
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D-HI) along with Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC), Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), introduced the bi-partisan Continuum of Learning Act of 2011. This landmark legislation updates the Elementary and Secondary School Education Act (formerly known as No Child Left behind), to support a critical component of education for all children – the coordination and continuity of early childhood care and learning with K-12 education.
Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, issued the following statement:
“Learning begins at birth. The research is irrefutable that the years between birth and entering the school system at kindergarten (or in some states, first grade), are critical to ensuring that children can begin school ready to learn and to succeed. The achievement gap that is so prevalent among far too many of our children, most of them economically disadvantaged, is firmly in place by kindergarten, many children are simply unable to ever close this gap.
“The Continuum of Learning Act finally addresses what experts and researchers have known for years – for children to achieve their fullest potential, we must begin at birth. For far too long, we have viewed the ‘early childhood’ and ‘K-12’ worlds as separate and distinct, when they are truly, as they title of the bill so succinctly communicates, one continuum of learning. It is right and appropriate that this bill amends ESEA so that the guiding legislation for education in the United States will now encourage and incentivize coordination and collaboration between early childhood programs such as child care, Head Start, pre-kindergarten programs, etc. with elementary education from kindergarten and beyond. This is a long-needed shift and one that will provide invaluable and long-reaching benefits to children all across our country.”
Some of the main provisions of the Continuum of Learning Act:
• Encourages states to review their early learning guidelines to comprehensively address emotional, social, and cognitive development and learning and coordinate it with learning in the K-3 grades;
• Supports professional development of both early childhood educators as well as teachers and principals in elementary settings, including joint professional development;
• Helps ensure that all schools have the quality teaching, supportive environments, and family engagement that all children need to succeed in school.
# # #
Washington D.C. – Today, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representative Dale Kildee (D-MI) introduced legislation to support young people who have dropped out of school in earning a secondary school diploma and attaining a 2-year or 4-year credential from a postsecondary institution. The Reengaging Americans in Serious Education by Uniting Programs (RAISE UP) Act seeks to give disconnected youth access to the professional skills they need in order to pursue a competitive career.
By creating community partnerships that integrate often disparate services into a comprehensive, cross-systems dropout recovery approach, the RAISE UP act will build dropout recovery systems at the local level.
“Dropping out of high school has a severe impact on the future livelihood of a teenager,” said Senator Stabenow. “High school dropouts earn $10,000 less per year than high school graduates, and $34,000 less than college graduates. If we make existing initiatives more efficient we can provide our youth better access to resources that will help them get back on track and attain the skills to compete in the global economy.”
“As a former teacher, I believe the best way to prepare our youth for professional success and strengthen our workforce is to provide every child with a quality education,” said Congressman Dale E. Kildee. “Sadly, many students leave school due to economic difficulties or because they lack a nurturing home environment, putting them at a professional disadvantage in our increasingly globalized economy. No one deserves to have their economic future restricted because of challenges they faced during their early years. That is why I joined Senator Stabenow to introduce the RAISE UP Act to support disadvantaged young people and help them reengage with their education.”
“We commend Senator Stabenow and Representative Kildee for demonstrating their support of disconnected youth by introducing the RAISE UP Act,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “While it is important to focus on prevention mechanisms to help raise student achievement and improve graduation rates, it is also critical that we create re-engagement strategies that locate disconnected youth, identify why they dropped out, and connect them to the supports they need to succeed in education and the workforce. Research and practice demonstrate the need to serve disconnected youth comprehensively. And while gaps still remain, the RAISE UP Act will provide education, workforce, and wraparound support services to place our youth on pathways towards self-sufficiency. For the sake of our young people as well as our nation, we can no longer ignore this vast pool of untapped talent. We look forward to working with Congress, national and state partners, and youth leaders to pass this important legislation.”
Researchers estimate that the number of disconnected youth range from 2.3 million to 5.2 million. Disconnected youth encompass a broad population that may include high school dropouts, teenage parents, homeless and runaway youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, or youth who have aged out of the foster care system.
# # #
Child Advocates call on Congress to Address Economic Issues around Jobs, Child Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness
Washington D.C. – Today, as Congressional leaders and White House officials race to pass legislation to avoid a default on the national debt, the First Focus Campaign for Children reacts to the bipartisan compromise reached last night, specifying what the deal means for America’s children.
While the details of the spending cuts outlined in the proposal remain unclear, whether through Congressional spending caps, the newly created Super Committee, or via sequestration mechanisms, the agreement would impose $1.2 trillion in cuts on discretionary spending over the next decade. That could translate to wide-ranging cuts affecting essential children’s programs, primarily education and housing programs. In fact, children’s programs represent about 20 percent of the non-defense discretionary spending in the federal budget.
The agreement also calls for another $1.5 trillion in budget cuts from a newly created Super Committee, with a backup trigger, or sequestration of funding, from federal programs to reach the reduction target in the case that the Super Committee or the Congress fails to make the cuts themselves. Essential programs, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be subjected to cuts in negotiations, but fortunately would be exempt from the sequestration. Yet, other critically important children’s programs will be left all the more vulnerable.
Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan child advocacy organization, issued the following statement:
“While we commend our nation’s leaders for their commitment to protect Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program from being subjected to sequestration or automatic cuts in the debt ceiling agreement, we fear the proposed $1.2 billion in spending cuts to discretionary programs will disproportionately impact children, and the additional $1.5 billion in budget cuts to be considered by the Super Committee could impose harm to Medicaid and CHIP. While tough times may call for tough measures, reducing spending for essential programs for children is misguided and will drastically affect the ability of a generation of children to reach their full potential.
“Moreover, the American electorate strongly agrees with this concern. Results from a recent public opinion survey prove that protecting programs that improve the well-being of children is immensely important to voters. When provided a battery of potential cuts some have considered in the budget debate, voters clearly protect children. In fact, the least popular cuts were those to K-12 education programs.
“As the President and Congressional leaders continue their negotiations to stem the debt ceiling crisis, we urge them heed the priorities of the American public and refuse reductions on the backs of children.
“In addition, we are deeply concerned that the process agreed upon in last night creates an agenda for Congress that will once again require this conversation around the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills, the newly created Super Committee process, potential congressional votes on recommendations by the Super Committee, and potential sequestration processes.
“Instead of this non-stop focus on budget cuts, our nation must make jobs and the economy our top priority. We know that a growing economy would reduce the federal deficit faster than the austerity measures being discussed. We also know that the most effective way to reduce federal spending on programs like Medicaid and SNAP is to reduce poverty in America. And yet, the crisis of child poverty, homelessness, education, and economic opportunity is completely ignored in our nation’s federal policy discussions, despite the fact that more than one in four American children are living in poverty, one in four is dependent on food stamps, and 1.3 million students drop out of school every year.
“No child in this country should go to bed suffering from the pangs of hunger or wondering where they’ll find a bed to sleep in tonight. We urge Congress to begin the critically important conversation about the economic crisis that includes jobs, child poverty, hunger, and homelessness.”
# # #
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and Representative Dave Loebsack (D-IA) introduced legislation to lower the barriers that stand between America’s children and educational success. The Developing Innovative Partnerships and learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act authorizes states to help local school districts build community-wide partnerships to address nutrition, health, personal safety, family stability, and other factors that determine how well children can perform in school.
“When children have to deal with issues such as hunger, instability at home and poor nutrition outside of school, it makes it even more difficult for them to receive a good education while in school,” said Representative Loebsack. “As someone who grew up in poverty, I know what it is like to face hardships outside the classroom, and I want to ensure kids can break through the barriers that will allow them to learn.”
“Many students face insurmountable learning obstacles through no fault of their own. If we don't address the obstacles outside school walls, we'll never turnaround what goes on within them. We need to do a better job of helping students with wraparound services like tutoring, extending learning services, health care and social support,” said Representative Chu. “When students are provided the right kinds of support and opportunities to help them learn, nothing can stop them. The DIPLOMA Act ensures that America’s next Nobel Prize laureate can come from any background or community.”
The DIPLOMA Act draws on successful models including the Community Schools Initiative and Promise Neighborhoods Initiative, to promote a shared, systemic, and comprehensive approach to education. Recognizing that schools alone cannot be expected to address every factor that influences student achievement, the legislation provides resources to local consortia to engage families and the public in strengthening student achievement, coordinating existing services, and filling gaps in services ranging from tutoring and extended learning to health care and social supports.
“Our nation needs, and our children deserve, a comprehensive approach to education,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, a bipartisan child advocacy organization. The DIPLOMA Act encourages our schools and communities to work together in order to guarantee that each child has an opportunity to learn and succeed. The collaborative framework that this legislation implements will build community ownership and strengthen results for children and youth across the country. We strongly urge Congress to incorporate this proposal in ESEA reauthorization. We commend Representative Chu and Representative Loebsack for their leadership on the DIPLOMA Act and look forward to working with Congress to pass this important legislation.”
In an era where students, parents, schools and educators still await the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it is great to know we still have champions on Captiol Hill that are leading the charge for meeting the needs of students. This week, Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) introduced the Developing Innovative Partnerships and learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act which authorizes states to help local school districts build community-wide partnerships to address nutrition, health, personal safety, family stability, and other factors that determine how well children can perform in school.
While education policy debates are heavily focused on teacher effectiveness, cutting K-12 programs, and school turnaround efforts, it is refreshing to see that school-community partnerships are also squeezing their way into the limelight. When schools are able to leverage community resources to help meet the comprehensive needs of students, strengthening academic achievement becomes more of a reality. When we are able to address the “stressors” influence teaching and learning, it is then that we ensure every student has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential, thus, we must address the needs that our children bring into the classroom. When a child misses school because they’re sick, when they can’t see the board, or when they’re distracted by hunger or concerns about their safety, that child can’t learn, which is why the DIPLOMA Act is so vital - it eliminates a blind-spot in federal education policy, recognizing that what happens outside the classroom affects what happens inside the classroom as well.
Rather than simply hammering down on high stakes test preparation, the DIPLOMA Act promotes a collaborative framework that integrates services and engages families and communities to help address comprehensive student needs. By creating partnerships, school can leverage the resources that are available in the community (non-profits, postsecondary institutions, local government agencies, faith-based services, housing, medical and counseling services, academic intervention programs, specialized instructional support) in order to provide the wraparound supports needed to tackle learning barriers that are found inside and outside the school. Developing school-community partnerships isn’t always easy, therefore, we must look for ways to develop incentives and provide needed resources so that schools can build the capacity that to cultivate key partnerships. In doing so, we promote a more systemic and comprehensive approach to education. The First Focus Campaign for Children applauds the efforts by Representatives Judy Chu, Dave Loebsack and Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) who introduced the Senate version of the DIPLOMA Act (S.426) back in March 2011. Thank you all for providing children and youth with opportunities to meet their needs, address learning barriers and strengthen academic achievement.
WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Representative Dave Loebsack (I-IA) introduced the Working to Encourage Community Action and Responsibility in Education (We CARE) Act (H.R. 2565). By amending Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the bill requires states and local educational agencies to assess the nonacademic factors affecting student academic performance. They then must work with other public, private, nonprofit, and community-based entities to address those factors.
The WE CARE Act also requires annual report cards issued by states and local education agencies to include additional performance data, including information on their efforts to increase community and parent involvement in students' education.
“I grew up in poverty, so I know the big difference community supports can make in a student’s life,” said Congressman Loebsack. “I would not be where I am today without the support of my community, and I want to work to ensure that all students have access to the services they need to reach their full academic potential.”
Research has shown a strong correlation between areas with high levels of poverty, crime, family mobility and low student achievement. Despite these challenges, studies also show that supportive neighborhoods can mitigate the harmful effects of economic disadvantage on students and form the foundation for high academic achievement.
“We commend Representative Loebsack for introducing legislation to strategically engage the community in the education of our students,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan advocacy group. “Strengthening school-community partnerships allows schools to build capacity beyond the instructional time allotted in a school year to address the comprehensive and non-academic needs of children and youth. The WE CARE Act ensures that schools and communities work together with families to provide the necessary wraparound supports students need to excel in the classroom.
We look forward to working with Congress, national and state partners, to pass this important legislation. Together, we can promote legislation that leverages resources from the community to help meet students’ non-academic needs and prepare them for success in the classroom.”
# # #
Today, Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) introduced the Working to Encourage Community Action and Responsibility in Education (WE CARE) Act, which amends Title I of ESEA to require states and local educational agencies to assess the nonacademic factors affecting student academic performance and work with other public, private, nonprofit, and community-based entities to address those factors. The WE CARE Act will also require the annual report cards issued by states and local education agencies to include additional performance data, including information on their efforts to increase community and parent involvement in students' education.
While the debate on education reform often focuses on policies related to teacher effectiveness, funding flexibility, charter schools, testing, common core standards, eliminating education programs (which is not really policy), school turnaround, it is critical (and refreshing!) to see that some policymakers can still recognize the value of having school-community partnerships meet the needs of children and youth. It wasn’t too long ago that a study by the Educational Testing Service outlined 16 factors that correlate with student achievement--over half of these factors occur outside of the school building. Such factors include forced mobility, environmental hazards, hunger and nutrition, neglect and health care, all of which puts students so far behind that being college and career ready by 12th grade becomes more difficult to achieve. So when we stop and think about all these non-academic obstacles that negatively impact student achievement, you would think that integrating services via comprehensive and more systemic approaches to education would be the way to go (but so many folks don’t seem to “get it”). That’s why bills like the WE CARE Act are so important – it leverages the community resources so that schools can tap them to address the non-academic needs of our students. What is also great about the WE CARE Act is that it offers additional momentum to a movement that promotes the engagement of community partners and families in the successful education of our children and youth. Whether students may need counseling or medical services, assistance with housing, nutrition, or even personal safety, all these “stressors” on students serve as non-academic barriers to learning…barriers that should never be overlooked when thinking about education reform and ways to help boost student achievement.
While the 112th Congress continues to be tough on programs that benefit children and youth, it is great to know that we still have members like Mr. Loebsack who advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves. Because he introduced a bill that ensures schools and communities work together to provide the necessary wraparound supports to students so they can excel in the classroom, we honor his commitment to our students, we honor his dedication to engaging communities and families and we applaud the fact that Congressman Loebsack truly “gets it” when it comes to investing in our kids in a comprehensive fashion.
As we witnessed the full committee markup of the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act (H.R. 2445) yesterday, we saw debate between members of the Education and Workforce Committee as to whether federal dollars truly make a difference in boosting academic achievement. It’s interesting how the majority argues that funding has not had an impact on academic outcomes for our schools while pushing a bill that highlights the importance of funding and the authority for states and school districts to move that money between all titles of ESEA as they deem necessary. This only speaks to the notion that funding truly does matter when it comes to helping boost academic performance. In a recent blog post by Lindsey Burke and the Heritage Foundation, she referenced H.R. 2445 as meaningful reform in the following ways:
It will save tax payer dollars – Are we talking about return on investment? I imagine so because Congress sure isn’t in much of a mood to pony up additional federal dollars these days. But return on investment could be jeopardized under the bill if it potentially leads to neglecting the needs of disadvantaged children and youth.
It will empower parents with decision-making authority – Interesting, given that the bill does not mention parents at all. But if the Heritage Foundation truly cares about parent empowerment, then where were they during the elimination of Parent Information Resource Centers (PIRCs) under H.R. 1891? However, the First Focus Campaign for Children did appreciate the efforts of Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) and his amendment to restore the PIRCS. Thank you Congressman Platts!
It will drastically reduce the federal role in education – Depending on the State we’re referring to, federal dollars compose between 10-15% of a State’s budget for public education. How much more can we really reduce in order for it to have an impact? And wouldn’t it make a greater difference if we went the other direction and increased funding? Although it matters a lot, we also recognize that funding isn’t the only that plays a role improving in educational outcomes… but it definitely starts there.
If the President’s proposed FY2012 education budget is enacted, spending at the agency will have increased 20 percent since 2010 alone, (By contrast, the defense budget has increased only 4.7 percent since 2010.) - Really? Shall we draw comparisons between defense and education for 2012? Under the President’s budget proposal for FY 2012, Defense makes up 19.27% of the Federal budget while Education and Job Training only comprises 2.77% of the 2012 budget proposal. Unfortunately, no contest.
And they find it reasonable to criticize increases in funding trends for K-12 programs? When did raising investments in children, youth and families become such a horrible thing to do? The whole “throwing more money is not the answer to improving education” argument is hard to buy when we invest as little as we do already. As for the perspective of eliminating the federal role in education, that’s also hard for so many folks to accept when different states and different schools districts do things differently…and they don’t always do right by our kids and families . This is why a federal role in education is needed.
This week, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) along with Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative Dale Kildee in the House of Representatives, reintroduced the Reengaging Americans In Serious Education by Uniting Programs (RAISE UP) Act (S. 1279 /H.R. 2358) which aims to re-connect our disadvantaged youth with education and workforce assistance. Where the current environment for youth outcomes is focused on dropout prevention mechanisms and the looming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA), programs for dropout recovery should also be further emphasized and implemented.
With public high schools always facing pressure to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind, recovering dropouts is usually a distant after-thought for schools. However, with legislation such as the Raise Up Act, we begin to realign some of our focus on disconnected youth – our young people, those between the ages 16-24 who remain disconnected from education and our workforce. When looking at the statistics on this specific population, you would think the sense of urgency to finally solve this issue would have been ignited years ago. The following statics will provide some context in order to better comprehend the severity of the issue:
- 1 out of 7 people between the ages of 16-24 are high school dropouts.
- The previous figure only gets worse as 3 out of 10 high schools students do not graduate on time.
- In 2008, the GAO estimated between 2.3 million and 5.2 million disconnected youth.
- Only 37 percent of high school dropouts are steadily employed, and they are more than twice as likely to live in poverty.
While there are several programs throughout the nation that focus on dropout recovery, we still have the need to create a systemic program that identify and locate these students, determine why they dropped out, and connect them to the supports they need to succeed in education and the workforce. If the moral imperative isn’t enough (although it should be), what about the economic one when considering the income earnings and tax revenues that are foregone because we continue to ignore disconnected youth? In a study titled Cities in Crisis 2009, high school dropouts earn less than 6 percent of all dollars earned in the U.S. and in the nation’s 50 largest cities; high school dropouts make $10,000 less per year than high school graduates, and $34,000 less than college graduates. While President Obama still highlights his goal to have the United States as the nation with the greatest number of college graduates by 2020, something which will be harder to achieve if we ignore this vast pool of untapped talent.
It is legislation such as the RAISE UP Act that provides youth outside of traditional systems – with education, workforce, and wraparound support services to place them on pathways towards self-sufficiency. Wraparound supports may include academic services (credit recovery, curriculum interventions, college and career counseling), social support services (physical and mental health, child care, and housing), and work-based services (apprenticeships, skill training and job placement). What also makes this an effective bill is its targeted focus on communities where the rates of dropping out and joblessness are disproportionately high.
By challenging high school dropouts to attain a secondary school credential, a postsecondary credential, and a family supporting career – the RAISE UP Act will provide these young people that are sometimes forgotten about, with the community support needed to succeed. The First Focus Campaign for Children applauds and actively
Washington D.C. – Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Secondary School Reentry Act. The bill will amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to increase the role of State and local educational agencies in implementing secondary school reentry programs that focus on reengaging young people who are disconnected from both the education system and the workforce.
“We commend Senator Sanders for demonstrating his support of youth by introducing the Secondary School Reentry Act,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan advocacy organization. “This legislation will create an avenue to meet the diverse needs of disconnected youth with a comprehensive set of supports and interventions to reduce barriers to school re-entry, learning & skill development, and the ultimate goal of diploma completion and college-career readiness. By amending ESEA to provide a focus on this population, Senator Sanders is encouraging States and school districts to implement a plan to identify and reengage disconnected youth with the ultimate goal of seeing them attain a secondary school diploma with greater opportunities for academic and financial success.”
Disconnected youth encompass a broad population that may include high school dropouts, teenage parents, homeless and runaway youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, or youth who have aged out of the foster care system. Research indicates that African American males constitute a disproportionate share of the population and that the risk of disconnection is particularly high with students experiencing emotional disturbances and learning disabilities.
According to the legislation, research shows that nearly 38 percent of young female dropouts, ages 16-24, are mothers. More than half of all high school dropouts are students of color, and low-income students are ten times more likely to drop out than other students.
“An extremely limited amount of federal education dollars is targeted toward programs that reach out and support dropouts who want another opportunity to reengage in the education system, receive their high school diploma, and create a pathway to a better, more promising future,” said Senator Bernard Sanders. “That is why I introduced the Secondary School Reentry Act which supports an increased role by state and local educational agencies in providing secondary school reentry programs in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act.”
Lesley added, “We applaud Senator Sanders for introducing this critical piece of legislation. With researchers estimating the number of disconnected youth ranging from 2.3 million to 5.2 million, the Secondary School Reentry Act will offer educational assistance to youth transitioning into adulthood by providing college and career ready services that open a pathway to higher education. We look forward to working with Congress, national and state partners, and youth leaders to pass this important legislation.”