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Incoming Head Of U.S. Department Of Education Talks To BOSSIP

An education bill slated to be signed into law Thursday would promote civil rights while doing away with counterproductive parts of No Child Left Behind, the incoming U.S. Department of Education secretary told BOSSIP.

John King Jr, who is expected to take over the department Jan. 1, said the Every Child Succeeds Act will create more equity among students and lead to “higher academic standards” as states determine their own educational guidelines.
“It’s very important because schools can be the difference between hope and despair for a kid,” King, the acting DOE deputy secretary, said.

Every Child Succeeds, which passed in the House last week, is a revamp of No Child Left Behind, which gave federal mandates and incentives and expired eight years ago.
Under the proposed bipartisan bill, states would set their own standards with an eye on “preparation for success in college and careers” and intervention plans for failing schools, King said. But there will be “guardrails.”
“We’re very concerned about ensuring low-income students and students of color have access” to advanced courses and “effective teachers,” King said, noting there will be enforcement measures. He said he will also “make sure that schools are not disproportionately imposing harsh discipline on students of color” or those with disabilities.

The new bill would help create equity — which is the “historic goal” of the DOE — through federal funding for pre-schools and investments in “wrap-around” programs that provide support services to students and families in need, King said. Though the House initially proposed a draft moving resources from struggling schools to more affluent ones, that piece was dropped, he said.

King said he wants states to “broaden the definition of success beyond test scores” — which are currently linked to teacher evaluations and schools’ access to federal money.
“That prescriptiveness got in the way of goals,” King said, noting NCLB requirements caused many states to lower standards to avoid punitive measures.

Still, students between third and eighth grade would take two federal tests in math and reading per year and one in high school. Three science tests would be given between grades three and 12. Information from these exams would continue to be aggregated and distributed to the public. But the tests won’t hold as much weight in determining a school’s success.

For King, who lost both his parents by the time he was 12 years old, the bill is personal because “school saved my life.”
He said he wants to make sure “all these schools give to kids who are at risk exactly the same thing New York city public schools gave to me: a shot.”

U.S. Department of Education

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