NSTA Legislative Update

In this edition:

Duncan Will Consider State Requests for Flexibility Around Teacher Evaluation and Testing

In light of recent claims from teachers and administrators that the transitions brought about by new accountability and assessments under common core standards were moving too quickly, last week in a letter to chief state school officers Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced he will consider requests from states around teacher and principal evaluations and testing.

Duncan wrote:

In recent months, we have heard from many of you and from thousands of teachers, principals, and education advocates. While there is a broad sense that recent far-reaching changes [raising standards and upgrading curricula, developing new assessments, rebuilding accountability systems, and adopting new systems of support and evaluation for teachers and principals] carry enormous promise for schools, children, and the future of our country, there is caution that too much change all at once could undermine our collective progress …. With that in mind, the Department is open to additional flexibility for states in two critical areas.

Senator Seeks to Restore STEM Education Programs at Mission Agencies

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) is asking other Senators to join him on a Senate Dear Colleague letter to the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee to restore STEM education programming to NOAA, NASA, and NSF. The Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee will decide funding for these programs in mid-July. As reported in earlier NSTA Legislative Updates, the President’s FY2014 budget proposes $3.1 billion to support federal STEM education programs, a 6.7 percent increase over FY2012–13 levels, but it consolidates or restructures 114 of 226 currently existing federal programs, 78 of which would be terminated. Funds totaling $176 million would be directed from NASA, NOAA, NIST to other agencies, (the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian.) The budget proposes 13 new STEM initiatives, most of which would require separate Congressional authorization.

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