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Readers: Congress should expand choice, wrap-around services

There has been a lot of talk in Washington this week about Congress rewriting the nation’s education laws: here, here, and here.

So with reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in view, we wanted to know what our readers top priorities would be for the revamped federal law.

Reader Melanie emailed that she hopes Congress does something to make school choice more available:

It would be great to see real school choice. It is not fair to those who are “locked in” to less proficient schools because of zip codes. I would love to see more options for families and students to choose as well as more incentives for great principles to take on the challenge of turning around less proficient schools.

Meanwhile, Eden Messutta, a middle school English development specialist, said in an email that Congress should ensure that schools serving the neediest students have all the wrap-around services they need.

… we are not meeting the social-emotional needs of our students. And, despite having oodles of interventions in the areas of academics, we are lacking truly effective intervention, programming and supports to meet the needs of at-risk students and students that struggle socially and emotionally. This is an area that, considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, must be addressed as we ask students to engage their brains in academic tasks. If our students are not getting their basic needs met and are not getting their social-emotional needs met, we cannot expect young people to be emotionally available to learn if they lack coping skills and/or means to acquire those skills.

On Facebook, reader Kelly Johnson suggested that testing mandates and their results shouldn’t be tied to funding:

I don’t like money tied to testing mandates. We need assessments but we also need more time spent on teaching — and LEARNING (and lots of the important lessons cannot be “tested”). I think preschool funding would be grand, but how about K funding?? Agree there could be a better distribution of federal dollars – but also think Colorado needs to step up and invest in education.

But reader Doug Fresse took the contrarian view on Facebook and said the feds should just butt out of education.

Return to local control of schools. Get the feds out of our neighborhoods. Arnie isn’t listening. The states will undo this mess.

As always, we invite you to join the conversation on our website, Facebook page, or on Twitter. Chalkbeat is off on Monday, it’s Martin Luther King Jr., Day. But we’ll be back with a Question of Week on Tuesday! Thanks for chiming in.

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