Supreme Court

Principals in the Central states may now be a bit more confused about their responsibility to report suspected child abuse. The Supreme Court declined to review a 6th Circuit decision allowing parents to sue principals for reporting suspected abuse at home. The allegation by the administrator, the court concluded, was retaliation for a dispute over the student’s IEP. NASSP signed an amicus curiae brief for the case, indicating that “mandatory reporting” now results in mandatory vulnerability to civil suits. NASSP members, remember that your membership provides you with up to $10,000 in legal coverage. Let’s hope you won’t need it, despite the court’s decision.

Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday evening, followed by a Republican rebuttal by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. On education, the president reiterated his commitments to universal pre-K and college affordability. With the Microsoft CEO in attendance, Obama also flagged computer science and coding in public schools as education priorities for the remainder of his term.

In conjunction with the State of the Union, Cabinet members often take off on nationwide tours to tout the president’s priorities. Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King departed on a nationwide “Opportunity Across America Tour,” continuing this week, to highlight the good work going on in schools and to hear feedback to take back to Washington. The tour covers Texas, Washington, D.C., Florida, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Why should principals care?

Obama does not believe he has much chance of getting any of his favored policies through the Republican-controlled Congress, but expect to see him continue to look for wins on education wherever he can and to see some of these priorities emphasized by the U.S. Department of Education.

In the Press

If We Forgive Your Student Loans, Will You Please Come Teach?, Brookings Institution

Rising levels of student debt coupled with teacher shortages across the country have caused a rise in state programs offering loan forgiveness for teachers. A program already exists at the federal level: The Stafford Teacher Loan Forgiveness program forgives some loans for teaching at a Title I school for five continuous years. Brookings Institution fellows examined the research on the effectiveness of such programs and found that teachers respond differently depending on their working conditions and the marketability of their skills.

Lawmaker: School Shootings Have Made Teachers 1st Responders, Associated Press

The New Hampshire legislature is currently considering a law that would provide teachers with the same death benefits given to police officers and firefighters. The author of the bill, a New Hampshire House Democrat, noted that school employees are trained in emergency response, and from previous school shootings, we know that they may put themselves in harm’s way to protect students. Several other states already offer benefits for school personnel killed in the workplace, including Washington, Maryland, and North Carolina.

Teach Your Teachers Well, The New York Times

The president of Bank Street College of Education shared some of the problems with teacher evaluations in this op-ed. She specifically discusses the problems with using test scores to evaluate teacher impact, and the distrust that teachers can have of scores with a 25 percent margin of error. She also noted that many of the new evaluation systems use complex formulas to arrive at a teacher rating, rather than trusting principals to evaluate teachers in their own schools.

How States Should Navigate New Opportunities Under ESSA, Education Next

Education Next invited eight experts to weigh in on how states should approach the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In particular, the experts considered accountability systems, teacher evaluations, and interventions for low-performing schools. Experts from the charter sector, education reform organizations, business groups, and universities weighed in with a variety of opinions. Some ideas included giving more power to parents and getting more creative with accountability systems so they include more than just test scores.

About the Author

Sophie Papavizas is the Advocacy Coordinator at NASSP.

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