Rocky transitions and civil society

After much dithering, Governor Rick Scott signed legislation expanding eligibility for Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program and creating an education savings account for special-needs students. In 2016–17, the program’s income-eligibility cap will be 260 percent of the federal poverty line (about $62,000 per year for a family of four), up from 185 percent (about $44,100), although the size of a scholarship will still vary based on household income.

In an attempt to ease concerns over the city’s transition to exams aligned with the Common Core State Standards, the District of Columbia will pause its use of value-added scores in teacher and principal evaluations for the 2014–15 school year. Also, notes Rick Hess, PARCC scores will likely not be available until late in the summer—or even early fall—posing significant challenges to every place that hopes to use them within its accountability system!

Under a worthy practice being urged by the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians will encourage parents to read aloud to their infants from birth—which, according to a wealth of research, will help reduce education gaps. Kudos to the docs for taking the initiative! Government isn’t the only place to look for policy change; the institutions of civil society can indeed make a difference.