Overview: Why federal and state education policy matters for our schools in the Upper Darby School District
In order to qualify for certain Federal and State funds for education, school districts, which are under the control of locally elected school board directors, must adopt policies that align with federal and state mandates. Although curriculum and instruction is technically under local control, since Upper Darby School District (UDSD) relies on Federal and State funding to meet its budget needs, UDSD’s curriculum and instruction of basic and special education must work to achieve Federal and State educational goals.
Mandates without funding or oversight
Some Federal and State goals, articulated as policy, include: the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In 2013, Pennsylvania secured a partial waiver from NCLB, and a new mandate, School Performance Profile (SPP), replaces AYP.
The power of the purse strings
The UDSD 2012 Academic Realignment, framed as necessary due to budget and academic achievement constraints, both of which are rooted in under-funded Federal and State mandates, resulted in the introduction of Arts Integration, an instructional model which replaced the dedicated instructional time previously given to the progressive, skills-based art and music curriculum in the Upper Darby School District elementary schools. [Note: Instruction in library science and physical education was also reduced but not included in the Arts Integration model.] The related arts classes at the elementary level were reinstated in 2013, but the classes were reduced to 30 minutes, once weekly. The reduced instructional time was deemed necessary to increase instructional time for math, science and writing instruction.