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Description: Scaling Back on Testing | Making the Case for Funding | Education Savings Accounts | Education Week and On-line Resources | From the SECA States

Public Policy Notes S outhe r n E a r ly C hild hood As s o ci a tio n Breakfast A Crucial School Supply We all know that paper pencils crayons glue etc. are crucial school supplies. But have you ever considered that breakfast might just make that list A new report Hunger in Our Schools from Share our Strength makes the case that breakfast can be just as important as those traditional school supplies. At a time when a majority of America s public school students come from lowincome backgrounds childhood hunger is a reality in American public schools. Among educators surveyed in the report 76 percent say they have students who regularly come to school hungry. Source http The report describes a host of problems that educators note when children regularly come to school hungry. March 2015 Public Policy Notes Behavioral problems (65%) Poor academic performance (84%) Students feeling sick (53%) have been fed 2) students are energized and ready and 3) no one is singled out. Other schools have had success with grab n go carts an approach that works particularly well in high school. They have also tried the second chance breakfast which is served later in the morning. Source Hunger in our Schools 2015. Inside this issue Scaling Back on Testing Making the Case for Funding Education Savings Accounts Education Week and On-line Resources From the SECA States 2 2 3 3 Teachers list the benefits of breakfast as Helps students concentrate throughout the day (93%) Prevents headaches and stomachaches (74%) Better academic performance (87%) Better behaved students (68%) Healthier students (76%) A Solution that Works 4 Inability to concentrate (88%) Tiredness (82%) Lack of energy or motivation (87%) Some schools have moved from breakfast served in the cafeteria to breakfast served in the classroom. It becomes a regular part of the school day and all students in the class participate. Schools that have implemented this model say it has been positive for students because 1) students Scaling Back on Testing The debate has been raging in education circles concerning student testing and how many is too many Just as in early childhood education the questions that are being asked are about age appropriateness curriculum alignment and frequency. As a result of this debate several states in the SECA region have moved forward to eliminate some tests and reduce the time spent in testing students throughout their educational career. Florida Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order (2015-31) on February 24 2015 that suspended the state s required 11th grade test in English Language Arts. The Order stated that The Commissioner of Education is hereby authorized to suspend the schedule for the administration of the grade 11 Florida Standards Assessment for English language arts to give the Legislature sufficient time during this legislative session to consider repeal of the requirement. West Virginia The West Virginia Board of Education approved a measure to eliminate testing in social studies and reduce examinations in science. (The information may be found in the February 12 2015 minutes of the West Virginia Board of Education.) The rationale given was a concern about over-testing. Although these measures do not directly impact assessment and testing in pre-K and the early grades the discussion concerning the amount and quality of assessment will continue to be a hot topic in education. It s encouraging that the issue is being discussed and hopefully the discussion will broaden to early learning. Oklahoma Middle school students who are taking advanced mathematics courses will as of this spring no longer be required to take grade-level math tests. In February the U.S. Department granted a request from the state to eliminate double testing for those students. Making the Case for Early Childhood Funding Congress is currently in the process of developing appropriations requests and national advocates are asking that local and state advocates help to make the case for including funding for early learning in these appropriations. The House will recess on March 27th and the Senate on March 28th. Prior to that time members of both houses are being asked to submit requests for discretionary funding. There are several areas where discretionary early childhood funding could be inserted. Increases in funding for the Block Grant (CCDBG) and Early Intervention. Increased funding for Head Start. Increased funding for Preschool aged to utilize the Congressional recess to contact their Representatives and Senators to encourage them to support this enhanced funding. If you would like to send a message or make a call to your Congressional representatives in support of these increases you can find the contact information on the SECA website under Our States State Advocacy Contacts. If you d like some help in learning how to get your message across check out Connecting the Dots An Advocacy Resource. Development Grants (This effort is being led by a SECA state Senator Bobby Scott of Virginia.) Inclusion of a dedicated funding stream for early learning in the ESEA reauthorization. Dear Colleague letters are being circulated on all these issues to gain support for increasing and enhancing funding for early learning. Advocates in the states are being encour- Child Care & Development Public Policy Notes Education Savings Accounts A New Strategy One of the newest innovations in education is Education Savings Accounts (ESA s) an evolution in parental choice. These accounts have been established in Arizona and Florida and incorporate the following Parental choice and educa- tional customization to meet the needs of individual students. Direct payments by the states on parental choice to bring together a customized education system that will support the child. To qualify children must generally have a disability and these funds are designed to support a variety of educational programs and therapies that meet the needs of these children. Florida s program Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts is only for students with disabilities like autism cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. The average payment per year is 10 000 and these funds can be used on qualifying expenses such as tutors or private school tuition. Any funds that are not spent can be saved for college tuition. This year approximately 1 400 students are using ESA s in Florida. The program included in a bill that also expanded tax-credit scholarship programs was passed in 2014 and is currently being challenged in court. This year several SECA states have proposed similar programs Georgia HB 243 The Georgia Education Savings Account Act Mississippi SB 2695 Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Oklahoma SB 609 Oklahoma Education Empowerment Act Tennessee SB0027 & HB0138 Individualized Education Act Virginia HB2238 Virginia Parental Choice Education Savings Account Source Some States Put Parents in Charge of Pupils Aid by Arianna Prothero Education Week 2 25 15 p. 1 & 19 into accounts for individual students that allow parents to make customized educational choices for their children. How does it work Education savings account programs give money based on the state s per-pupil funding to parents of eligible children and rely Education Week Offers a Variety of On-line Info Education Week has developed a series of on-line blogs that provide information on differing topics of interest to educators. These blog posts are developed by reporters for Education Week and cover the following topic areas Educating Specific Populations Health & Wellness Parents and Community Charters & School Choice On Special Education News and trends in special education for administrators teachers & parents. K-12 Parents and the Public Information about how parents and the community are re-shaping education policy. Politics K-12 Follow federal and state developments in education. These blogs are available without a subscription. Politics and Policy Technology Industry & Innovation Research In the Classroom P-16 Connections Leadership Teaching Profession You ll find these blogs that may be of special interest to our membership within those categories. Early Years News and analysis on topics relevant to early learning. Learning the Language Issues around duallanguage learners. Volume 8 Issue 3 Page 3 Southern Early Childhood Association 1123 S. University Ste 255 Little Rock AR 72204 Phone 800-305-SECA Fax 501-227-5297 E-mail info How to Use Public Policy Notes If you re interested in advocacy one of the most effective tools that you can have is access to information. This newsletter is provided as a service to locate and share information that we think will be helpful to you in your work at the state level and to keep you updated on what s happening in public policy. You ll find information that Compares your state to other SECA states--how you re doing what issues you have in common what the hot topics are in your states. Brings the national scene to your fingertips and gives you a perspective on how national events might impact you...You ll also receive information about where to find additional information. We hope you ll find it helpful. Children need you to be their voice in your community and state. This monthly newsletter is produced by Glenda Bean SECA Executive Director. SECA strives to provide non-partisan and non-biased information A Voice for Southern Children that is of interest to early childhood educators. Sign up at http policy_newsletter_sign.php to receive notice of its availability each month. News to Note Texas This legislative session has seen a variety of early learning bills filed for consideration. Governor Greg Abbott has made early childhood education an important part of his agenda for the session. Companion bipartisan bills (HB 4 & SB 801) would spend up to 118 million in aid to school districts to provide high-quality early childhood education. The bills introduce quality standards and allocate 1 500 per qualified student. Children who will qualify for the program are foster and homeless children or those from lowincome non-English speaking families. The bill would not require a full-day preschool program. State of the State Addresses Georgia In his January 14th address Governor Nathan Deal asked lawmakers to approve a state constitutional amendment to allow the creation of an opportunity school district. This would allow the state to take control of academically struggling schools. The proposal is modeled after the Recovery School District in Louisiana. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe focused on education as a means to economic development for Virginia in his January 14th speech. He asked lawmakers to help him protect K-12 and higher education from budget cuts. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin highlighted two new education initiatives funding to establish a science technology engineering and math or STEM network and proposed legislation to help skilled state residents to enter the teaching field with a streamlined teacher certification program. He also proposed legislation to overhaul the state s juvenile justice system in his January 14th address.