Special Education

ESEA Renewal Session Focuses on ‘Special’ Groups

By Alyson Klein — December 01, 2009 1 min read
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Federal officials gearing up for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act are getting a clearer idea of how advocates for a number of special populations—including English-language learners, students in special education, and homeless children—hope to see the law reshaped.

They aired those views at the U.S. Department of Education’s second “stakeholder forum” held in Washington recently, aimed at laying the groundwork for reauthorization of ESEA, whose current version is the No Child Left Behind Act. (“ESEA Action High Priority, Duncan Says,” Sept. 30, 2009.)

Kris Gutierrez, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies ELLs, suggested that schools track those students after they leave the classroom, and said they need to be assessed for continued progress.

Patricia Popp, a representative from the Virginia Education Program for Homeless Children and Youth, noted that support staff for homeless students often are the first laid off during an economic downturn. She suggested that Congress make sure it provides adequate funding for homeless students through the federal McKinney-Vento program, which finances support services for that population.

Jane West, a lobbyist at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, in Washington, noted that both the ESEA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are up for reauthorization at the same time. She suggested that, rather than aligning the two laws, Congress actually consider merging them.

And Deborah Ziegler, a lobbyist for the Council for Exceptional Children, which advocates for students in special education, said she hopes that special education teachers would be eligible for alternative pay, such as salary bonuses for boosting student achievement.

The department plans to hold more such forums in coming months. Renewal of the ESEA has been pending since 2007. Department officials gave no sense of how soon they plan to release the administrations blueprint for reauthorization.

A version of this article appeared in the December 02, 2009 edition of Education Week as Renewal Ideas Fly at Forum on ESEA

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