Obama Changes The Game For Education — Why The New K-12 Bill Is So Important

Obama Changes The Game For Education — Why The New K-12 Bill Is So Important

The new K-12 bill is crucial for our schools.
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On Dec. 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed a very important bill for the American education system; the Every Student Succeeds Act is the new K-12 education law for the country after Congress rewrote the No Child Left Behind Act.

Why is this so important? First of all, just look at the difference in the names of the two laws; No Child Left Behind has a whole different meaning and connotation than Every Student Succeeds. In the newest education bill, all students are expected to achieve, meaning no matter their socioeconomic status, race, gender, ethnicity or where they live, each individual student will succeed.

In one of my education classes, we discussed the importance of teachers holding equal expectations for all students. Students will live up to the teachers’ expectations, meaning if a teacher does not believe a student can complete a task such as reading aloud to the class, then the student will perceive this expectation and live up to it. Setting different expectations for each student is setting those students up for failure. Unfortunately, this is the sad truth in many classrooms nationwide, but the Every Student Succeeds Act is exactly what this country needs.

As an elementary education major and future school teacher, the education system is something I am beginning to understand better, but there is one aspect that particularly upsets me. Public schools are funded by property taxes and test scores, which does not sound so bad right? Well, you're wrong.

A school in an upper-class neighborhood is better than a school in a lower-class one because the property taxes in the upper-class neighborhood are higher and therefore, more can be given to schools. Tax-wise it makes sense, but that does not mean it is okay for the schools. Although the children living in the upper-class neighborhoods go to great schools with extraordinary teachers, the children who live in low-income areas do not get the same opportunities or resources. And that, my friends, is what upsets me.

I mean, how are you going to tell a small child that because of where they live, their school is considered worse off than another school? Federal funding of schools is definitely an issue in this country, but luckily, the new Every Student Succeeds Act will help transform the old education system based on high-stakes test scores into one that promotes the success of all schools.

One of the issues of the NCLB was the way in which schools received funding based on high-stakes standardized tests. If students did not meet the federal requirement in terms of test scores, then that school did not receive as much federal funding as it would have with the appropriate scores, and other federal sanctions were placed on the school too. It was this type of accountability system that has plagued our education system and led many schools to over-test students in hopes to get the scores needed to succeed.

States and school districts were creating and administering dozens or even hundreds of extra tests to ensure that they were on track for all students to perform well on the annual test required by the law and the teacher evaluation mandate in the waivers. This outcome is almost expected because the annual test became almost a death penalty moment for schools — if you didn’t perform according to the plan, you faced severe federal sanctions. NCLB became a “punish your way to success” accountability system.

Under ESSA, each state has more freedom to create an accountability system for schools that does not have to be primarily based on testing. Each state is required to have “test results, graduation rates, English proficiency and another measure of school quality or student success in its accountability system,” but this other measure does not have to relate or even involve testing.

Another subject the new K-12 law mentions is teacher evaluations. States can now choose to keep the old teacher evaluation system, eliminate it completely or implement a new one. There is no more federal government involvement in teacher evaluations, and the decision to keep, change or create a system of teacher evaluations is entirely up to the states and school districts.

The third major topic of the ESSA is how states now identify the lowest-performing five percent of schools every three years, and each state will decide what to do to improve these schools using their new accountability systems. Under NCLB, schools in the lowest five percent were forced to close, convert to charters, teachers and principals were fired, and other federal sanctions occurred, but not anymore.

It is now for the state — and not Washington, D.C — to decide what to do about these schools that are struggling with improving student achievement.

Essentially, the Every Student Succeeds Act gives more authority to the states in terms of their schools, and promotes an education system that will benefit the nation and all of its students.

“Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way.”

Cover Image Credit: http://bit.ly/20p9H9w

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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That One Time I May Have Shot An Ex-Police Officer

Yeah, you heard me.

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In England, we don't really have guns, maybe hunting guns but I think it's pretty rare. Anyway, point is, barely any guns. I have never seen a gun, shot a gun, I don't even know anybody that owns a gun so as an exchange student in Oklahoma it's a novelty to visit a gun range.

I was pretty nervous about shooting but the instructor was super nice and told us how to hold the gun and load it before we went into the range. He also let us ask any questions we had about guns and explained the process of getting a gun in Oklahoma and he said he had visited Europe and was talking about England, and how he used to be a cop and opened his own gun shop. Basically a really really nice guy, which honestly makes harming him ten times worse.

We went into the range and we were shooting a 22 caliber and another guy at the range, I'm assuming a regular, asked if we wanted to fire his revolver so of course, we said yes.

This gun was definitely heavier and the trigger was super hard to pull but he kept his hand on the gun whilst I struggled with the trigger and then I fired it.

I heard a bang and I heard a yell.

I turned around and he was holding his thumb and there was blood dripping onto the floor. At this point, I thought I had shot him, so you can imagine the sheer level of panic that I was feeling.

The color drained from my face and I was frozen solid and all I could say was, "are you okay?" which was answered with a "Ma'am, put the gun down."

Basically, I'm freaking out and I look over at the lads for some form of reassurance, which was met with them looking equally as freaked out as me. So I asked,

"Do we need to call someone?"

"Yep. We are definitely gonna have to call someone"

So at this point, my nerves were shattered and I had no idea what was going on or what the procedure is for this sort of thing. I mean, the guy also took it like a champ and barely even winced and kept repeating "little lady, you're fine" – safe to say I did not feel fine nor did the situation, in my eyes, look at all fine.

Luckily the regulars knew what to do and took him to the ER so we were left in the store with another regular shooter.

Everyone else went back out to shoot but I didn't feel like assaulting/ shooting/ potentially murdering anyone else so I decided to sit this round out and talk to the woman that stayed with us and he called and said it wasn't me, something came off the bullet or gun and went into his hand- so no I didn't actually shoot him and he was going to be okay.

The point of this now very funny story is that whilst guns are cool they're also pretty dangerous.

I have no idea how someone can participate in these mass shootings because I didn't even shoot someone, only thought I did, and it was probably the most terrifying moment of my life.

So, if you are around guns, have fun, be safe and try not to send your instructor to the ER.

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