Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Vermont's NCLB Letter

Update: as Charlie points out, Arne Duncan has really decided - without real authority backing his actions - to be large and in charge of public education in this country.  (I suspect this is one reason so many conservatives, not just in the Tea Party, don't like the DOE.)

One conservative education writer, Michael Petrilli,  advocates for Washington State to go to court over the NCLB waiver issue.  Now the head of the state group for Washington school superintendents says he thinks that's a good idea as well. Bill Keim of the Washington Association of School Administrators said this:

For me, one of those continued sources of irritation is the unfettered federal intervention into what used to be the states’ domain—operating our public schools. I was amazed when the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation passed that there was so little debate regarding the expanded role it created for the federal government to dictate how schools in each state must function. It was a classic case of the tail (represented by the 7 percent that federal funds contribute to our education funding) wagging the dog. It also represented an unprecedented intrusion into what previously had been the states’ right.
I don't know Mr. Keim's politics but you can sense that frustration but his words do echo some conservative politicians talk on the DOE.
He also said this:

There was extensive debate in Washington State during our last legislative session regarding the “may” to “must” language change.

The Department of Education was requiring with regard to the use of state test scores in TPEP. They required that change to maintain our NCLB waiver. Much of that debate centered on whether the change made sense or was at least OK. Again, the bigger issue of federal intervention became secondary in the conversation. In the end, we lost the waiver because there wasn’t the sufficient legislative support to make the change.
I support that idea of having a discussion/debate over these issues.
Also, OSPI has sample letters for districts to use to send to families.  They have nothing like the stern resolve of Vermont's. 
OSPI is asking for district letters by Friday, August 8th.  They must be approved by OSPI by two weeks before school starts.  
However, WASA likes the letter drafted by the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) because there is a cover letter separate from the required NCLB letter (which has the official wording/notice of what parents can do).    The wording is important for the actual NCLB letter as it must meet federal requirements.  Districts don't need OSPI approval for any cover letter.
Here' what the PSESD letter says (partial):

The label of “failing” schools is regressive and punitive, as nearly every Washington school will not meet the NCLB Requirements. Some of our state’s and district’s most successful and highly recognized schools are now being labeled “failing” by an antiquated law that most educators and elected officials – as well as the U.S. Department of Education – acknowledge isn’t working.

Good for them.  I hope SPS  follows this lead.
End of update.

A beautifully written letter that Seattle Schools should emulate.

Vermont is one of five states, along with Washington state, that does not have a NCLB waiver.


dan dempsey said...

The entire refusal to grant WA a waiver reveals the idiocy of Obama/Duncan/Ed machine.

WA as documented in the NAEP results (known as the nation's report card) from 2011 and 2013. Shows WA's improvement from 2011 to 2013 as at least twice as great as the national average improvement in each category. Also WA out scores the national average for each raw score in 4th grade Math & 4th grade Reading as well as 8th grade Math and 8th grade Reading.

None of the US Dept. of Ed political hocus pocus has anything to do with improving learning, it all about empowering centralized control.

Check the NAEP data ... Arne Duncan simply does what big money donors want.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data --- Arne has no substantive plan to improve anything.

Charlie Mas said...

Actually, with 41 states on a waiver, Arne Duncan has replaced the law passed by the Congress and signed by the President with his own autocratically determined waiver process. In 41 states the law has been repealed and replaced by Mr. Duncan single-handedly. Democracy has been replaced by administrative fiat.

This is the sort of usurpation of power and authority that deserves a law suit from the Congress much more than any executive orders.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, much has been made of Duncan's unilateral decisions. His change to FERPA - allowing educational entities to label anyone/any other entity to have a "legitimate educational interest" access to student data - also comes to mind.

Carol Simmons said...

Dear Dan,

It is so enlightening to hear your comments again. Thank you.