Friday, August 29, 2014

Cleaver: It was not Fallujah, but Ferguson

In his latest EC from DC report, Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver writes about the situation in Ferguson.

The images that assaulted our senses, night after night, recently from Ferguson, Missouri, created waves of concern in Americans from coast to coast, regardless of race, religion, or political party.

So many questions, emotions, and deep-seated resentments have erupted since the shooting death of Michael Brown.

At the request of several ministers and community leaders in Ferguson, I traveled there to offer any assistance I could, to lessen tensions before another tragedy occurred. I also joined several Missouri lawmakers in sitting down with Attorney General Eric Holder. I was pleased by his visit, his promise of a fair and thorough investigation, and his commitment to those victimized during the protests.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (right) meets with Representative Wm. Lacy Clay (center) and Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II, in his office at the Pentagon | DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt

I, along with my colleague Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), also urgently requested a meeting with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. We sat down in The Pentagon with him the next evening, to discuss our grave concerns about the militarization of local law enforcement agencies.

Under what is known as the 1033 Program, surplus Department of Defense equipment is distributed to various police departments throughout the country. I voiced my strong objections, and those of many constituents from both parties in Missouri’s Fifth District, to parts of 1033. I am not advocating for the termination of the 1033 Program altogether, but believe a vigorous review is necessary. I am encouraged by the President's promise to do just that.

If there is any good to come of this tragedy, perhaps it is that we will act forcefully and quickly to ensure public safety, and preserve our constitutional rights, including the right to assemble and peacefully protest, without the unacceptable threat of an overbearing police response that targets law-abiding citizens with military weapons and technology.

Carl Junction, Webb City schools top 6-8 MAP scores

Sixth Grade Communication Arts
Scoring Proficient or Above Average

1. Jasper 79.2
2. Webb City 63.5
3. Carl Junction 52.8
4.Carthage 44.0
5. Joplin 41.9
6. Avilla 40.0
7. Sarcoxie 37.1
(Joplin South scored at 48.2, Joplin East 39.1 and Joplin North 37.3)

Seventh Grade Communication Arts
1.Carl Junction 63.1
2. Webb City 60.3
3. Avilla 56.5
4. Joplin 55.7
5. Carthage 52.2
6.Jasper 51.3
7.Sarcoxie 46.2
(Joplin South scored 56.7, East 56.0, and North 54.0)

Eighth Grade Communication Arts
1. Webb City 60.4
2. Carl Junction 55.5
3. Avilla 50.0
4. Joplin 48.0
5. Jasper 46.9
6. Carthage 44.0
7. Sarcoxie 31.3
(South 53.9, North 51.9, East 35.3)

Sixth Grade Math
1. Jasper 83.4
2. Webb City 63.5
3.Carl Junction 57.9
4. Sarcoxie 52.9
5. Carthage 52.5
6. Joplin 45.1
7. Avilla 40.0
(South 52.0, North 43.9, East 37.3)

Seventh Grade Math
1. Carl Junction 66.9
2. Webb City 64.5
3. Jasper 56.7
4. Carthage 56.0
5. Joplin 53.6
6. Avilla 34.8
7. Sarcoxie 32.9
(South 56.4, North 52.3, East 44.2)

Eighth Grade Math
1.  Webb City 64.9
2. Carl Junction 55.5
3. Joplin  48.0
4. Carthage 41.2
5. Jasper 40.6
6. Avilla 33.4
7. Sarcoxie 30.8
(North 52.3, South 44. East 29.7)

Eighth Grade Science
1. Webb City 61.2
1. Carl Junction 61.2
3. Joplin 50.2
4. Avilla 45.8
5. Carthage 45.7
6. Jasper 43.8
7. Sarcoxie 34.6
(South 53.4, North 53.2, East 44.2)

Test scores reveal highest, lowest ranking schools in KC metro area

APR numbers improve for Kansas City Public Schools

Hickman Mills celebrates full accreditation

Work groups forming to develop Missouri Education Standards

In his latest report, Senate :President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, talks about the process of forming work groups to develop Missouri Education Standards, a step that is being taken because of intense opposition to Common Core State Standards. 

After a successful legislative session, many of the new laws we passed took effect this week. One measure that has special importance to thousands of Missouri families is House Bill 1490, which creates the new Missouri Learning Standards educational benchmarks for students in our state.

The need for new standards became apparent in the wake of serious concerns raised by a very diverse cross-section of Missourians of all political viewpoints over the implementation of what is often called the “common core.”

Billy Long: Federal regulations continue to hurt farmers

In his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long talks about the role of agriculture in American life.

This year marks our fourth annual agriculture tour of Missouri's 7th Congressional District. From my days growing up raising Polled Herefords I have witnessed firsthand the vital role that agriculture played and continues to play in our economy. My staff and I put together a great tour once again this year.

Our office continues to hear from many farmers regarding how federal regulations have continuously played a heavy role in directing the path of their businesses. Livestock and livestock products are responsible for a little over half of Missouri's agriculture production, which makes it important to ensure that these businesses can progress and thrive without government regulation.

Oklahoma punished for dropping Common Core; all schools are failing

If anyone has an idea that the Obama Administration is not using Common Core Standards to set a common curriculum for the United States, the treatment of Oklahoma should put that thought to rest.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is revoking Oklahoma's No Child Left Behind waiver because the state legislature voted to get rid of Common Core Standards. Since No Child Left Behind requires that 100 percent of students be proficient in math and reading by 2014, an impossible task, that means that all Oklahoma school districts will be classified as failing.

Since some Oklahoma children have already started the school year, the Education Department will phase in some of the consequences of No Child Left Behind that Oklahoma had escaped under the waiver: The state must provide tutoring services and public school choice options no later than the 2015-16 school year. But schools that will need a total overhaul must begin that process this school year.

“It is outrageous that President [Barack] Obama and Washington bureaucrats are trying to dictate how Oklahoma schools spend education dollars,” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement. “Because of overwhelming opposition from Oklahoma parents and voters to Common Core, Washington is now acting to punish us. This is one more example of an out-of-control presidency that places a politicized Washington agenda over the well-being of Oklahoma students.”

This marks the first time the Education Department has stripped a state of its waiver on the grounds of academic standards, said Anne Hyslop, a senior policy analyst for Bellwether Education Partners.

“This is obviously dicey water for the Secretary [Arne] Duncan, given growing opposition to Common Core,” she said.

St. Louis Superintendent: This is how we raised APR

(The following message was sent by St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams to staff after APR scores were released today.)

SLPS Staff

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) today released the Annual Performance Reports (APR) for districts and individual schools through the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) cycle five. Based on the data released by DESE, SLPS received 60.5 APR points, an increase of 75% from last year. In addition, seven Saint Louis Public School District schools earned enough points to qualify for Accreditation with Distinction, the highest recognition available.

The District increased in APR points due to several factors. First, the District took a more proactive approach to monitoring and evaluating data throughout the school year. Focused Instructional Learning Walks were held at all schools in the District to review teaching and learning at the classroom level. Rigor and alignment to District teaching standards were consistently communicated and coached.

Attendance data was monitored weekly by District administrators and reviewed with principals. Schools developed attendance improvement strategies to address individual students who exhibited patterns of absenteeism.

The District focused on improved follow-up measures to address graduating seniors in the college and career readiness category. By utilizing social media and innovative methods, the District was able to more accurately track graduating seniors for the 2014 Annual Performance Report.

SLPS schools earning Accreditation with Distinction honors are Buder Elementary School, Gateway Elementary School, Kennard Classical Junior Academy, Metro High School, McKinley Middle/High School, Stix Early Childhood Center and Wilkinson Early Childhood Center. Schools had to earn at least 90% of the points possible to qualify for Accreditation with Distinction. Kennard and Wilkinson each earned a perfect score of 100%.

An additional 17 SLPS schools earned enough APR points to qualify for Full Accreditation. Those schools are: Bryan Hill Elementary School, Busch Middle School of Character, Carnahan High School of the Future, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, Cleveland NJROTC High School, Clyde C. Miller High School, Compton Drew Middle School, Cote Brilliante Elementary School, Dewey International Studies Elementary School, Gateway Michael Elementary School, Gateway STEM High School, Jefferson Elementary School, Mallinckrodt Academy of Gifted Instruction, Mason School of Academic & Cultural Literacy Elementary School, Shaw Visual and Performing Arts Elementary School, Shenandoah Elementary School and Woerner Elementary School. Schools were required to earn at least 70% of all possible points to qualify for Full Accreditation.

All public school districts and individual schools received an APR score based on Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests results, End Of Course (EOC) exams scores, attendance data, graduation rates and college and career readiness preparation.

The 2013-2014 school year is the second year DESE has calculated APR scores for districts and schools based on the MSIP cycle five standards. MSIP cycle five uses a 140 point scale to calculate a district’s APR, requiring a district to earn at least 70 points (50%) to qualify for Provisional Accreditation, at least 98 points (70%) to qualify for Full Accreditation and at least 126 points (90%) to qualify for Accreditation with Distinction. Under the MSIP cycle four scoring system, districts were evaluated based on a 14 point scale.

Individual school APR’s are calculated using the same percentages for Provisional Accreditation, Full Accreditation and Accreditation with Distinction. However, elementary and middle schools are evaluated on a 70 point scale based on MAP results and attendance, while high schools are evaluated on a 140 point scale based on EOC results, attendance, graduation rates and college and career readiness.

Nicastro: Lower APR scores show why state took over Normandy School District

(From the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)

“Lower APR numbers show the need for a fresh start for the children of Normandy,” said Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro. “As we begin the 2014-15 school year as the Normandy Schools Collaborative, under state oversight, we are determined to improve instruction, curriculum and focus on the educational needs of these students.”

The Normandy Schools Collaborative was formed under state oversight on July 1, 2014. The Collaborative has hired new staff, revised curriculum and provided professional development for faculty and administrators. Schools welcomed students for the 2013-14 school year on August 18.

“We will focus on quality classroom instruction, leadership, and the use of student data to make ongoing decisions,” said Superintendent Ty McNichols. “It is critical that we reverse our academic trends and that our energy and purpose be laser-like on academic improvement.”

The Department believes high expectations, a clear vision and a few focused, high-impact goals will be critical to drive the improvement efforts necessary to bring about positive results.