CL4E Chairman Bennett and President Nussle: No, Teacher Strikes Do Not Help Students

There is a fundamental problem in education that has been on vivid display recently: confusion about whom our schools exist to serve. Our public school system exists to give our children a foundation in literacy and numeracy and to help them become informed citizens. It is not the purpose of the public schools to use children as leverage for the gains of others.

Only that base misconception could drive mass school closures and disruptions right in the midst of a critical time in the school year. Only that misconception could lead adults to go on strike, thrusting chaos and untenable choices on the most vulnerable families least able to cope with abrupt changes in the routines of their children.

We strongly believe in the importance and honor of great teaching and teachers. We believe policymakers should set budgets so that the best teachers are attracted and retained. Those decisions must be made at each state and district level.

We strongly disagree that adults in our public schools should use systematic disruption of students and families—that is, strikes or walkouts—as a tactic to secure financial outcomes. There are several basic reasons for this:

[Read More in Education Week]

Secretary Betsy DeVos: CL4E’s “State Legislative Leadership Can Make a Huge Difference”

By Karen Nussle

Last week, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute convened a summit on education in response to the 35th anniversary of the Nation at Risk Report. The Institute not only brought together bipartisan leadership from previous administrations, but also current education stakeholders and champions.

CL4E’s Chairman Dr. William Bennett had the opportunity to interview current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The two secretaries touched upon the challenges they faced, insights they gained from interacting with students, and experiences they learned from visiting a variety of schools.

More importantly, Chairman Bennett and Secretary DeVos examined the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2017 Score results. Overall scores have made very little positive shift, while per-pupil spending has gone up by almost 75% over the last 35 years. As Secretary DeVos described, “this is not something we are going to spend our way out of, and this is not something we are going to mandate or regulate our way out of either.” In order to improve these scores, she noted, change needs to happen at the state and local levels. This is a key principle for CL4E – local control.

Chairman Bennett noted with the Secretary that CL4E’s role is to convene these state policymakers and create an environment for them to “compare notes, find out what works, and see if the policy is replicable.” As Secretary DeVos concurred, “state legislative leadership can make a huge difference” in student outcomes.

CL4E will continue to assist state and local policymakers to implement conservative education policy around our key principles of local control, parent choice, accountability, and quality content. As noted by Chairman Bennett and Secretary DeVos, our education systems still need work, and our organization will continue to seize the day and create a brighter future for our children.

To view the full interview click here.

Karen Nussle currently serves as the President of Conservative Leaders for Education.

CL4E Chairman Dr. William Bennett: Georgia’s Consortium for Advanced Technical Training is Sending Students in the Right Direction

I have long encouraged those interested in improving our public schools to look to state and local leaders for the ideas that will have the most success and help students.  That is the fundamental idea behind Conservative Leaders for Education (CL4E), a group of state policy leaders I helped found two years ago that is dedicated to improving our schools by developing and implementing practical solutions to problems.

One of CL4E’s members, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, recently exercised exactly that kind of leadership. It is an example worth taking a closer look at.

A few years ago Lt. Governor Cagle led an effort to launch a new program — The Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (GA CATT) — that creates a new pathway for students to achieve simultaneously a solid academic foundation and an industry-recognized certificate in a high-value career.  Thanks to the commitment of private sector manufacturing partners, high school apprentices receive valuable hands-on training, personal and career mentoring, and up to $25,000 in compensation for their work while in the program.  These students will graduate ready to accept high-skilled, high-paying jobs in some of Georgia’s most advanced industries.  GA CATT is the first program of this specific kind in the nation, explicitly structured on a German Apprenticeship model that has been successful for decades in preparing students for these kind of excellent career opportunities.

But as GA-CATT was implemented there was a problem.  The model requires students to enter the program sequence in their sophomore year, when students are often 15 –years-old.  However, an outdated federal labor regulation prohibits any 15- year-old from participating in any apprenticeship or career and technical education (CTE) program at the site of any manufacturer.

So although the student’s school district, the state Department of Education, and these cutting edge businesses had all developed a careful plan for all activities for these students, which involves absolutely no production and is modelled on the same program successfully in place for decades in Germany – an old federal labor regulation still blocked their participation in the new program.

Fortunately, Lt. Governor Cagle did not give up, which is not surprising given he has long championed education as “the great equalizer.”  Also, fortunately, we have new leadership in the agencies in Washington D.C. that believe in state and local control.  The Lt. Governor went to work on a solution for these students and with the support of CL4E and others, the federal Department of Labor recently granted a special approval and waiver of the old regulation for GA CATT to be implemented as designed.

This was a big win not only for the students who will have full access to this cutting edge CTE opportunity, but also for those who know that state and local leaders are the ones to trust in developing truly effective educational initiatives.  There has been much talk in recent years about the need to invigorate CTE programs, but a lot more talk than action.  The nation is sorely in need of more diverse models that successfully prepare and transition students into great careers.  GA CATT is real action on one such model, and action other states developing new CTE options can look to.  This is federalism at work, and a great example of a state policy leader putting practical, conservative thinking into implementation – exactly what CL4E exists to help advance.

Unfortunately, that outdated federal regulation remains on the books as a hurdle for other states. Every step should be taken at the federal level to remove these kinds of barriers to new state CTE approaches and at the state level to develop multiple rigorous CTE paths for students that lead them into successful career opportunities.

But today, Lt. Governor Cagle and the state of Georgia deserve thanks for taking a big step in the right direction.

William J. Bennett is the former Secretary of Education and currently serves as Chairman of Conservative Leaders for Education.


CL4E Chairman Dr. William Bennett: Refocusing the Conversation in Alabama

In a recent opinion piece, Alabama State Board of Education Member Mary Scott Hunter, refocused the conversation on the results of the state’s new A-F grading system. While the initial evaluation of the state’s schools, districts, and the overall education system were surprising and disturbing, Mary Scott took this opportunity to call upon parents to examine where schools are struggling to produce solid results and how communities can foster a better learning environment for our children.

As a state education leader and mother, Mary Scott’s call to action for involvement is the right direction. A-F grading systems, and other statewide evaluation tools are not always the perfect method nor do they answer every question. But they can be an important tool to give local leaders more information and a good starting point when it comes to examining how they can improve outcomes in critical measures like academic achievement and growth, graduation rates, college and career readiness, and chronic absenteeism.

During my time as Secretary of Education in President Reagan’s Administration, we sought to find areas where parents, educators, and community members could take control at the state level and reform local education systems. Similarly, these report card results empower Alabamians with better information to really reshape their education systems and their evaluation methods.

I commend education champions like Mary Scott Hunter who are seizing the opportunity to use these results as a way to engage families and communities across the state. With this strong state and local leadership, I look forward to the improvements that will be reflected in Alabama’s report card in years to come.

William J. Bennett is the former Secretary of Education and currently serves as Chairman of Conservative Leaders for Education.

CL4E Chairman Dr. William Bennett – Here’s What To Expect From State Education Reform Efforts In 2018

The year 2018 will be a momentous one for federal and state education efforts. Legislatures across the country have convened and leaders will have an unprecedented opportunity to shape K-12 education policy.

As states begin to receive the green light on their accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), schools and districts can now exercise the enhanced flexibility they need to provide a tailored learning environment for their students.

These plans would not come to fruition without strong state leadership. I have the privilege of working with various state leaders and seeing their policy efforts grow under this law. Conservative Leaders for Education (CL4E) is a coalition comprised of leading state policymakers focused on ensuring that conservative principles gain traction in state decisions. CL4E is made up of leaders serving in House and Senate Education Chairmanships, state Boards of Education, and executive leadership…[Read More]

Daily Caller | 2.16.18

School grading from a mom and education policy-maker’s perspective

CL4E and Alabama State Board of Education Member Mary Scott Hunter authored an opinion piece on the recently released A-F grading scores for schools, districts, and the overall education system in the state.

In 2012, the Alabama Legislature passed the School Performance Recognition Program Act and required the state, school systems, and individual schools be graded utilizing an A-F grading system.

A few weeks ago, the statewide score was released, and Alabama as a whole received a grade of “C.” On February 1, officials released a second round of grades for all Alabama schools and districts. The grades are based upon the following five factors: Academic Achievement (20%), Academic Growth (30%), Graduation Rate (30%), College and Career Readiness (10%), and Chronic Absenteeism (10%)…[Read More]

New Paper and Video Series Highlight How States Are Seizing Local Control Under ESSA

Leadership in Arizona, Colorado and Kentucky show states are serious about moving away from just Federal compliance

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — This week, Conservative Leaders for Education (CL4E) released a new series of white papers and videos that shed light on some of the bold, new visions shaping education policy in states across the country. At the heart of all these cases, are CL4E members who are striving to bring education decision-making back to the local level and ensure all students in their states are receiving an education that prepares them for college and 21st-century careers.

Read More Here.

Alabama State Board of Education President Pro Tem and CL4E Member Mary Scott Hunter issues letter to Sec. of Education

Mary Scott Hunter sent a letter to Sec. DeVos asking for testing flexibility under ESSA as the Alabama moves to develop alternative testing for students. She highlights the opportunity for Alabama to exact choice and flexibility through local control under ESSA. On June 21, 2017 the school board unanimously voted to approve a resolution to drop ACT Aspire.

On June 22, 2017 Alabama leaders and federal officials reached an agreement allowing Alabama to remove the current standardized test and find a new exam that aligns with the state’s accountability plan.

To read the full letter click [here].

CL4E Member Sen. Owen Hill urges Bennet to eschew politics in DeVos nomination vote, touts her as Colorado-style education reformer

By: John Tomasic

The Colorado Statesman | 1/31/17

State Sen. Owen Hill, a Colorado Springs Republican and school choice champion, held a telephone press conference Monday on which he lauded multi-millionaire school reform advocate Betsy DeVos as the right person to head the U.S. Department of Education for the Trump administration. The call was meant to put pressure on Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet to vote for the DeVos confirmation.

“We know Michael Bennet shares values [with DeVos]” — on fostering diversity of options to increase choice for parents and students, Hill said. So it would be clear, he continued, that “Bennet’s opposition to her confirmation would be for political reasons…” [more].

CL4E Member Sen. Hill to champion embattled Trump education nominee DeVos in telepresser

By John Tomasic

The Colorado Statesman | 1/26/17

State Sen. Owen Hill will host a teleconference Monday to help generate support for the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s choice to head the department of education.

Hill, a Republican from Colorado Springs, chairs of Senate’s education committee and has been a leading school choice advocate at the Capitol for years and a champion of DeVos since she was nominated this month… [more]