Spring 2016

Greetings from the Chair

Tom Shields headshot With our national news focused on the heated presidential campaigns, you might not have noticed the changes in leadership and public policy at the federal level in K-12 education.

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed legislation replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The reauthorization of NCLB had been languishing in the House and Senate for years. It took a bi-partisan group of federal legislators, one of which was Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia, to finally agree to changes in NCLB. The originations of this legislation started over 50 years ago when President Johnson signed the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). He believed it to be a civil rights milestone in his “war on poverty.”

The other big change at the federal level was at the helm of the U.S. Department of Education. Replacing outgoing Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, in January John King was named as Acting Secretary of Education. King is a former teacher, assistant principal, principal and commissioner of education in the state of New York, where he was also the first Puerto Rican and African American to serve in that role.

What is most fascinating about these changes is the possible focus at the federal level on equity and opportunity, particularly as it relates to race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Although it will take at least a year to implement ESSA, many are celebrating the law’s emphasis on understanding the experiences of poverty, hunger, health, and abuse on a child’s learning. In addition to the policy change, Acting Secretary King has made it his life’s work to champion economic and racial integration in schools. In his first speech on Martin Luther King Day, Acting Secretary King stated, “Research shows that one of the best things we can do for all children — black or white, rich or poor — is give them a chance to attend strong, socio-economically diverse schools.”

Education faculty and staff at the University of Richmond are hopeful that these changes at the federal level will usher in a new and different era in K-12 education.

In this latest issue of UR’s Graduate Education e-newsletter, you will find stories and information on how our graduate programs and students are excelling at understanding these changes in K-12 education including the newly launched Board Certified Behavior Analyst Certificate, VACTE scholarship recipient John Drake Watson III, the UR chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, and school leadership in the 21st century with viewpoints from Dr. James Lane, Dr. Kate Cassada and Chandra Rhue, GC’12.

As always, we are so grateful for all of the good work by so many of our students, faculty, and staff. Happy reading!

Be safe and be well!

Tom Shields signature
Tom J. Shields, Ph.D.
Graduate Education Chair