U.S. Department of Education Awards $5 Million to Recruit, Train and Support Teachers to Focus on Rural Communities
The U.S. Department of Education announced today four new five-year grants totaling $5.1 million through its Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) program, which funds innovative teacher preparation models to improve the preparedness of prospective and new teachers serving high-need communities.
“Ensuring that every student has access to great teachers has been a key priority for this Administration,” U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said. “Helping communities nurture new and innovative pathways into teaching is critical to providing all students with opportunities to learn, and these grants will help ensure our educators have the skills, experiences and knowledge to succeed in our rural classrooms.”
TQP funds teacher preparation programs at the undergraduate or “fifth-year” level, or teaching residency programs for individuals new to teaching with strong academic and professional backgrounds. The central feature of all TQP grantees is a strong partnership between the teacher preparation program and the school districts they serve, which is often facilitated by mentor teachers that coach and train incoming educators.
Gwen Benson, associate dean of School, Community, and International Partnerships at the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University—a recipient of a 2014 TQP grant—believes that this strong partnership is critical in preparing teachers for the challenges they will face when they have graduated and found jobs in high-need schools. Benson said of the teachers in their program, “If they have strong support from both the school district and the university, they’re more likely to grow in their teaching positions, enjoy what they do, and continue teaching.”
This year’s TQP grantees join a cohort of 64 grantees comprising almost $400 million invested since 2009. The four new grantees will serve 13 high-need school districts, with a particular focus on 11 rural communities. This year’s grantees include two Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs)—Coppin State University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University—that will serve rural and urban communities in Maryland and rural communities North Carolina. In addition, grants to the University of New Hampshire and University of West Alabama will enable them to serve rural communities in those states.
Please see below for the list of grantees, first year grant amounts, and total estimated funding (contingent on future Congressional appropriations).
Teacher Quality Partnership Grantees:
|Grantee Name||Model||FY 2016 Funding||Total Estimated Funding|
|Coppin State University||Pre-bac||
|North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University||Residency||
|University of New Hampshire||Residency||
|University of West Alabama||Pre-bac||
What Is on the Horizon for Education Technology?
David Andrade is a K–12 Strategy Specialist and Google Apps/Chromebooks specialist on the education strategy team for CDW·G, a leading provider of technology solutions and services to education, government and healthcare. A former engineer, educator, ed-tech specialist and school district CIO, Andrade works with school districts to assist them with selecting and implementing technology solutions to help them improve teaching and learning.
Is there anything more exciting today in schools than the marriage of technology and pedagogy? Educators are finding new ways to connect with students, using students’ individual needs and wants to guide their instruction. A deeper connection forms between teacher and student when technology is used to enhance their relationship.
“The NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition,” which reveals emerging technology trends in education over the next five years, recently was released. In it, we see which technologies may be used to advance personalized learning for millions of students across the globe, including virtual reality, robotics, makerspaces, online instruction and wearable tech.
Most important, two long-term trends were identified in the report, which was jointly conducted by the New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking. Schools are redesigning their classroom spaces for more hands-on learning and incorporating technology education to prepare the next generation to become part of a technology-based workforce.
Wide Open Spaces Make Room for Collaboration
For learners today, movement and creativity in education are paramount. Mobile technology frees students from the old model in which a teacher lectures from the front of a classroom that is laid out in rows of desks. Instead, teachers have become coaches and guides in today’s modern pedagogy, which includes blended learning, project-based learning and small-group instruction. This collaborative model fosters teamwork and cooperation, and the layout of the classroom enhances that experience.
Students are more engaged and perform better when school furniture and technology transform to create a more collaborative environment. Classroom designs have been shown to cultivate deeper and more student-centered learning encounters that are more flexible, active, mobile and fun. These spaces, bolstered by technology, continue to prepare students for the real world and workforce. We need to leverage available and future technologies to promote active learning.
Looking to the Future of Technology
In the short term, the Horizon Report identified coding as an emerging literacy trend that deserves our attention.
“As the number of computer science jobs are expected to proliferate in the next five years, there is a need for students to learn coding and programming skills, which have proven to bolster problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking skills,” the report states.
Similarly, advancements in technology can further drive the innovative ways in which we teach our kids. Makerspaces and online learning are hot right now, with robotics and virtual reality expected to be widely adopted within two to three years. Artificial intelligence and wearable technology will be considered mainstream within four to five years, according to the report.
Of course, no school year is without its challenges. Many districts, especially in rural areas, face the weighty issue of digital equity. Students who now have access to broadband services in schools thanks to the expansion of the E-Rate program, still have to face the prospect of completing digital homework with limited or no internet access at home.
“Even in the face of increasingly advanced technologies and quality learning materials, not every demographic has the same level of access, and learning outcomes are still unequal throughout the world,” the report states.
This article is part of the “Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.
Nevada Supreme Court rules that state’s private school scholarship program passes muster under the state constitutional provisions regarding the establishment of common schools and the use of public funds for sectarian purposes, but violates the state constitutional provisions regarding diverting public funds earmarked for public education to the program
Schwartz v. Lopez/Duncan v. State of Nevada, Nos. 69611/70648 (Nev. Sept. 29, 2016)
Abstract: The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that the Nevada Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program, also known as SB 302, does not violate Article 11, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution, which requires the state legislature to provide for “a uniform system of common schools.” It also concluded that SB 302 does not run afoul of Article 11, Section 10, which prohibits the use of public funds for sectarian purposes. However, the state supreme court found that the use of funds appropriated in SB 515, for K-12 public education, to instead fund the ESA program violated the requirements of Article 11, Sections 2 and 6.
The Nevada Supreme Court, therefore, affirmed in part and reversed in part the lower court’s order in Duncan v. State of Nevada, dismissing the suit and remanding the case to the state district court to enter a declaratory judgment and permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of section 16 of SB 302 in the absence of an appropriation consistent with the supreme court’s opinion. The supreme court also affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s order in Schwartz v. Lopez granting a preliminary injunction, and remanding the case to the district court to enter a declaratory judgment and permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of section 16 of SB 302 consistent with the Nevada Supreme Court’s opinion.
Facts/Issues: The ESA program is contained in SB 302, passed by the Nevada Legislature in 2015. It allows grants of public funds to be transferred into private education savings accounts for Nevada school aged children to pay for their private schooling, tutoring, and other nonpublic educational services and expenses. The ESA program provides financial resources for children to pay for an alternative to education in the public school system. The ESA program requires participating students to receive instruction from one or more “participating entities,” which include private schools, including sectarian schools, a university, a program of distance education, tutors, and parents.
After passing SB 302, the Nevada Legislature passed SB 515, an appropriations bill to fund K-12 public education for the 2015-17 biennium. SB 515 was approved by the governor on June 11, 2015. When an education savings account is created, the amount of money deposited by the Treasurer into an account for a child within a particular school district is deducted from that school district’s apportionment of legislatively appropriated funds in the DSA. Specifically, Section 16 of SB 302 amended NRS 387.124(1) to provide that the apportionment of funds from the DSA to the school districts, computed on a yearly basis, equals the difference between the basic support guarantee and the local funds available, minus “all the funds deposited in education savings accounts established on behalf of children who reside in the county pursuant to NRS 353B.700 to NRS 353B.930.”
The plaintiffs in Schwartz v. Lopez (see Legal Clips for background on suit) alleged that SB 302 violates the requirement for a uniform school system under Article 11, Section 2; and diverts public school funds contrary to Article 11, Section 2 and Section 6. The plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction, arguing that they were likely to prevail on the merits because SB 302 was clearly unconstitutional and that Nevada’s public school children will suffer irreparable harm because the education savings accounts will divert substantial funds from public schools. The district court granted a preliminary injunction, concluding that SB 302 violated Section 6. However, the district court rejected the constitutional challenge under Section 2.
The plaintiffs in Duncan v. State of Nevada (see Legal Clips for background on suit) asserted a constitutional challenge to SB 302, alleging that it diverts public funds to private schools, many of which are religious, in violation of Article 11, Section 10 (which prohibits public funds from being used for sectarian purpose). They also alleged SB 302 violates Article 11, Section 2 (which requires the Legislature to provide for a “uniform system of common schools”). The court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that while the plaintiffs had standing to bring facial challenges to the ESA program their facial challenges under Sections 2 and 10 were without merit.
Ruling/Rationale: The Nevada Supreme Court, therefore, affirmed in part and reversed in part the lower court’s order in Duncan v. State of Nevada, dismissing the suit and remanding the case to the state district court to enter a declaratory judgment and permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of section 16 of SB 302 in the absence of an appropriation consistent with the supreme court’s opinion. The supreme court also affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s order in Schwartz v. Lopez granting a preliminary injunction, and remanding the case to the district court to enter a declaratory judgment and permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of section 16 of SB 302 consistent with the Nevada Supreme Court’s opinion.
After concluding that the plaintiffs in both suits had standing to pursue their claims, the state supreme court began with a discussion of whether the ESA program violates Article 11, Section 2, which requires the state legislature to provide for “a uniform system of common schools.” It found SB 302 does not alter the existence or structure of the public school system. It also pointed out that SB 302 does not transform private schools or its other participating entities into public schools. As a result, the supreme court concluded “SB 302 is not contrary to Section 2’s mandate to provide for a uniform system of common schools.”
In addition, the supreme court determined that Section 1 of Article 11 bolstered that conclusion. Specifically, it said, “Use of the phrase ‘by all suitable means’ reflects the framers’ intent to confer broad discretion on the Legislature in fulfilling its duty to promote intellectual, literary, scientific, and other such improvements, and to encourage other methods in addition to the public school system.” It found that its holding was consistent with the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision in Meredith v. Pence, 984 N.E.2d 1213, 1221 (Ind. 2013), which upheld an education choice program against a challenge brought under the Indiana constitution’s school uniformity clause, which is similar to Nevada’s.
The supreme court rejected the plaintiffs’ reliance on the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Holmes, 19 So. 2d 392, 407 (Fla. 2006). It said, “[t]he Meredith court distinguished the Bush decision because the Indiana Constitution contained no ‘adequate provision’ clause and no restriction on the mandate to provide a free public school system, and instead contained two distinct duties—‘to encourage. . . moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement,’ and ‘to provide . . . for a general and uniform system of Common Schools.’”
The Nevada Supreme Court, therefore, held:
We conclude that as long as the Legislature maintains a uniform public school system, open and available to all students, the constitutional mandate of Section 2 is satisfied, and the Legislature may encourage other suitable educational measures under Section 1. … For these reasons, we conclude that the plaintiffs have not established that the creation of an ESA program violates Section 2.”
The supreme court next turned to the Duncan plaintiffs’ claim that the ESA program Section 10 of Article 11 in the Nevada Constitution by allowing public funds to be used for tuition at religious schools. It rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the fact that the ESA program permits parents to use the funds at religious schools constitutes a use of public funds for a sectarian purpose, in violation of Section 10.
Instead, the court determined that “[o]nce the public funds are deposited into an education savings account, the funds are no longer ‘public funds’ but are instead the private funds of the individual parent who established the account.”’ It found that even though “the funds may revert back to the State under certain circumstances, we nonetheless conclude that, during the time the funds are in the education savings accounts, they belong to the parents and are not ‘public funds’ subject to Article 11, Section 10.”
The state supreme court also rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that the Nevada Supreme Court had previously held, in State v. Hallock, 16 Nev. 373 (1882), that “[s]ection 10—prohibits any public funds from ending up in the coffers of a religious institution or school.” It concluded that the plaintiffs’ had misread Hallock because the Hallock decision concerned an appropriation of public funds from the State treasury directly to a sectarian institution, while the ESA program “provides for public funds to be deposited directly into an account belonging to a private individual, not to a sectarian institution.”
Finally, the supreme court took up both groups of plaintiffs’ argument that SB 302 violates Sections 2 and 6 of Article 11, “which requires the Legislature to appropriate money in an amount the Legislature deems sufficient to pay for the operation of the public schools before the Legislature enacts any other appropriation for the biennium.” First, the court determined that “SB 302 contains no limit on the number of education savings accounts that can be created or the maximum sum of money that can be utilized to fund the accounts for the biennium.” Second, it found “the Legislature passed SB 302 on May 29, 2015, but it did not enact SB 515, appropriating the money to fund the public schools, until June 1, 2015.” Based on these two facts, the state supreme court concluded “that SB 302 does not contain an appropriation to fund its operation.” It pointed out that the text of SB 515 does not address the ESA program or appropriate any money to fund it. It also noted the legislative history of SB 515 contains no discussion of the education savings accounts or their fiscal impact on the amount appropriated for public schools. As a result, the court concluded “the record is devoid of any evidence that the Legislature included an appropriation to fund the education savings accounts in the amount the Legislature itself deemed sufficient to fund K-12 public education in SB 515.”
The Nevada Supreme Court, therefore, rejected the state’s argument that SB 515 appropriates funds for the education savings accounts created under SB 302. It held that “the use of any money appropriated in SB 515 for K-12 public education to instead fund the education savings accounts contravenes the requirements in Article 11, Section 2 and Section 6 and must be permanently enjoined.”
Two Nevada Supreme Court justices departed from the court’s majority on the issue of whether SB 302 violates Article 11, Section 10 of the Nevada Constitution. Their concurring in part and dissenting in part opinion argued: (1) the court should not have reached the issue because: “[i]n reaching the merits of the Section 10 challenge, the court ignores the fact that the Duncan complaint (which raised the Section 10 challenge) was dismissed by the district court for failure to state a claim under NRCP 12(b)(5);” and (2) the issue is one of first impression, which the justices, in dissent, said is “not as well-defined and easily resolved as my colleagues suggest, … the proper action here, had a majority of this court not determined that SB 302’s funding is unconstitutional, would be to remand this matter to the district court for further proceedings and factual development as to this claim.”
Schwartz v. Lopez/Duncan v. State of Nevada, Nos. 69611/70648 (Nev. Sept. 29, 2016)
[Editor’s Note: In August 2016, Legal Clips summarized an article in Courthouse News Service, reporting that the Nevada Supreme Court peppered the parties with several questions during oral argument in two separate suits challenging the state’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program. In particular, questions focused on how the state legislature’s public school spending bill coincided with state funds for private school tuition. The justices appeared to focus most of their attention on the first case they heard, one dealing with whether the law is unconstitutional because it siphons off state funds that can only be used for the operation of public schools. In that case, a state court judge in Carson City sided with a group of parents and issued a preliminary injunction halting implementation of the law. Much of the argument and questions from the justices centered on whether the legislature had met its constitutional mandate to pass an appropriations bill to sufficiently fund public schools while also enacting the school-choice measure.]
See Ed. Dept. Guidance on Using Federal Aid for School Turnarounds Under ESSA
How can schools and districts use federal money intended for at-risk and needy students to improve general learning conditions? The U.S. Department of Education has some suggestions.
Last month, the department released “Supporting School Reform by Leveraging Federal Funds in a Schoolwide Program.” It specifies how schools can use federal money to drive comprehensive turnaround efforts and help all of their students, regardless of whether those children are identified as Title I (or disadvantaged) students.
Which schools can operate schoolwide programs using federal aid for disadvantaged students? These include schools in which at least 40 percent of students are in poverty, schools that receive a waiver from that 40-percent threshold, and certain schools that received waivers under the School Improvement Grant program. As we wrote not long after ESSA passed, a much larger number of schools could potentially qualify for the second category under the new law. And the guidance also hits on a common message about ESSA: that it’s supposed to help schools move away from a narrow focus on a few subjects.
“The new law allows SEAs and LEAs the opportunity to broaden their definitions of educational excellence, while maintaining critical civil rights for all students,” the guidance states. “Additionally, the ESSA includes provisions designed to enable SEAs and LEAs to focus on providing students the diverse, integrated curriculum and learning experiences necessary for a well-rounded education.”
After conducting a study to find out the needs of failing or at-risk students, the guidance highlights a few possible examples of schoolwide programs that can be paid for with Title I money (and that can become part of a new improvement plan or added to an existing one). Some of these possible strategies, which must be evaluated annually, include:
- “High-quality preschool or full-day kindergarten and services to facilitate the transition from early learning to elementary education programs.”
- “Counseling, school-based mental health programs, mentoring services, and other strategies to improve students’ nonacademic skills.”
- “School climate interventions (e.g., anti-bullying strategies, positive behavior interventions and supports).”
- “Equipment, materials, and training needed to compile and analyze student achievement data to monitor progress, alert the school to struggling students, and drive decision making.”
- “Devices and software for students to access digital learning materials and collaborate with peers, and related training for educators (including accessible devices and software needed by students with disabilities).”
- “Two-generation approaches that consider the needs of both vulnerable children and parents, together, in the design and delivery of services and programs to support improved economic, educational, health, safety, and other outcomes that address the issues of intergenerational poverty.”
In several respects, the guidance is similar to the guidance on schoolwide Title I-funded programs issued last year by the Education Department.
Both the 2015 and 2016 versions of the guidance do some myth-busting—they make clear, for example, that Title I money used for schoolwide programs don’t just have to be used on reading and math instruction, and that Title I aid can be used for children in preschool.
And if you’ve made it this far, check our our recent “Moving the Needle” special report on school improvement strategies in the age of ESSA, including one in which we examine how states and districts are trying to find new flexibility when it comes to spending federal dollars.