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Trump's Vision for American Education; CT Ranks Worst for Special Ed Outplacements; High Performing Schools Serving Low-income Students

The Trump Vision of Education in America 

President Biden has been all over the news lately after a disappointing debate performance, but there’s a far deeper concern at play: namely, what could potentially happen to the public education sector under a second Trump administration. Donald Trump's education agenda is largely built off of Project 2025, a right-wing playbook authored by The Heritage Foundation. As Education Week explained on Monday, his proposals specifically include, but aren’t limited to: 

  • Closing the Department of Education; 

  • Eventually eliminating Title I, which provides grants to schools with large populations of low-income students;

  • Advancing private and religious education through a universal federal school choice program; and

  • Scaling back Title IX enforcements, which protect against sex-based discrimination.


The Nation also reported on Friday that Trump plans to change the higher education accreditation system, which is set up to ensure that postsecondary students receive the educations for which they are paying. Rather than maintaining the existing non-partisan structure that evaluates schools "in relation to their educational mission," the article explains, Trump will build an accreditation system that eliminates DEI efforts and forces alignment with far right ideologies. 


From kindergarten to college, it’s a truly frightening vision for the country’s future.


Must Read - CT Ranks Worst for Special Education Outplacements

Alex Putterman reported on Friday that, "Connecticut sends special education students away from their local districts more than any other state." This is according to a 2023 federal report that says 6.3% of Connecticut students with disabilities were educated in a separate school in 2021. It's a cause for concern, given that the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) tasks districts with placing students in the "least restrictive environment,” so that they are mainstreamed with their peers as much as possible. 


Another insight from the federal report is that the designation of “specific learning disability” was more prevalent than any other special education classification in the country in 2021. Students with a “specific learning disability” struggle with understanding or using language, spoken or written—which can impact listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or doing mathematical calculations. Very interestingly, dyslexia falls into this category of disability under the IDEA.


The report shows that Connecticut is one of only four states in which the percentage of students ages 5-21 who were designated as having “specific learning disability” increased by more than 7 percent between 2012 and 2021. Looks like the state’s “Right to Read” legislation— which, among many other research-based requirements, provides a list of approved assessments to districts for more effective early intervention—couldn’t have passed at a more important time for students. 


High Performing Schools Serving Low-income Students

This week, Rianna Saslow and Charles Barone from Education Reform Now's national policy office penned an opinion for The 74, which unpacked their research into 64 "spotlight schools" across two states that have achieved above-average proficiency rates while serving high-poverty populations. (You can read their reports on Massachusetts and Colorado here.) Based upon this research, they identify four common strategies for success:

  • Data-driven decision-making; 

  • Tiered academic interventions; 

  • Professional development, high-quality instructional materials and coaching; and

  • Family engagement.

Read their opinion piece here.

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