Friday, April 11, 2014

Public Policy Update

We are starting something new at Montessori Forward. Every Friday, we will post a review of the legislative and initiative news from the federal and state level from the previous week. This particular post will be a bit on the long side as we bring you up to date.

Please send us information from your state, post your questions, or additional information that you might have from a more local perspective.

Happy Reading!


The Child Care Development Block Grant was reauthorized by the Senate. Through CAPE (The Council for American Private Education), amendments were added in support of parent choice, and diversity of pedagogies. The bill has been heard by the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee (HELP) and at some point, there will be the opportunity to add additional amendments which protect alternative teacher credentialing, protect particular pedagogies from licensing requirements, such as materials, ratios and group size which are not consistent with that pedagogy, and which exempt nationally accredited programs from QRIS. We will continue to monitor this bill as it goes through the House and comes to vote.

The House has passed a bill which would increase and improve charter schools (HB 10).  This bill would development and expand charters, favor management groups with a proven record of successful charter start up, and allow for a weighted lottery in favor of special needs students, and ESL students. We'll keep on eye on this one as it moves to the Senate HELP committee.

Senators Harkin and Miller, who introduced the Strong Start for America's Children bill, which would provide matching grants to states to develop pre-K programs was heard by the HELP committee today. This bill has bipartisan support in the House but that support is lacking in the Senate. Senator Harkin, who is retiring after this session, considers this bill "his legacy" and will be moving ahead for committee consideration.

The Educational Sciences Reform Act was reauthorized this week. The ESRA turns hard evidence into good practice by production of research for educational leaders to assess policy and practice.

The Connect ED Initiative, which seeks to provide services, hardware and software to improve student outcomes has been focused on public schools. CAPE has written to the DOE to draw attention to the use of these funds (which also include expansion of broadband and wireless access, and professional development so teachers can use technology in a wise way) in private schools as well as public.

State Developments:

In a blow to parent choice, MS voted down the use of certificates, or vouchers, for parents to choose their child's school (this definitely impacts private schools), and TN voted that non-profit corporations can not start charter schools.

IN is the first state to reject the Common Core. Several other states are considering the same action

VA and NYC recently decided to reduce the number of assessments that student must take in favor of teacher assessment based on "hands-on projects." Sound familiar?

NY recently allocated $340 million for pre-school programs which will serve low income children. Of this $300 million goes to programs in NYC.

CO will soon be voting to change the CCAP program which provides state funds to parents to choose the pre-school, or child care, they want for their child. The tiered reimbursements are based on fair market value and can be used for children attending a private Montessori school in the state. The Colorado Montessori Association has advocated in favor of this bill. CMA is also working to limit the number of state mandated assessments for students, particularly those in Montessori charter schools.

CA has introduced SB 837 which would provide funds for a "transitional pre-K" program in all public schools. Although the sponsoring Senator has discussed the need for a mixed delivery service model (This means using both private and public programs to serve children and families) the requirements include specific teacher credentials, a curriculum which is specifically aligned to state set standards, and a provision that private providers would be considered public employers for collective bargaining purposes. The CA Montessori group is advocating on behalf of the Montessori community.

CT legislators have also proposed a bill to fund pre-school education with bond funds and Tobacco Fund revenues. This legislation is directly connected to public school programs and would require NAEYC accreditation. The advocacy committee in CT. is working to advocate for Montessori education within the context of this bill.

Leave your comments, and questions and let us know what is happening in your state.

Montessori Forward

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