Thursday, April 24, 2014

WA State First State to Lose NCLB Waiver

From Sec'y Duncan:

As you know, Washington’s request for ESEA flexibility was approved based on Washington’s commitments to carry out certain actions in support of key education reforms. In return for those commitments, we granted your State and your local school districts significant flexibility. However, Washington has not been able to keep all of its commitments. Thus, although Washington has benefitted from ESEA flexibility, I regret that Washington’s flexibility will end with the 2013–2014 school year.

I love the last line here:

However, because those efforts were unsuccessful, and your legislature is not scheduled to reconvene until January 2015, I cannot extend Washington’s authority to implement ESEA flexibility, and Washington and its LEAs must resume implementing the requirements of Title I of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), as well as all other ESEA requirements that were waived under ESEA flexibility, for the 2014–2015 school year. This means that, among other actions that the State and LEAs will have to resume, LEAs in Washington must once again set aside 20 percent of their Title I funds for public school choice and supplemental educational services rather than having the flexibility to use those funds for other activities to improve student achievement in low-achieving schools. Should Washington obtain the requisite authority to resolve its condition, I would be pleased to reconsider Washington’s request to implement ESEA flexibility at any time.

Is that the big stick or the big carrot he is offering?  Washington State should ignore them both.

Superintendent Dorn blames the teachers union for their influence on the Legislature.  And was it all the teachers union?  I doubt it but it makes for a good narrative.

The WEA is saying it was better to stand up to Duncan (and especially given that last sentence I highlighted, I'd agree - that sounds like more big stick talk on the part of Duncan). 

Other comments:

Patty Murray (via Politico)- Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said she was “deeply disappointed” by the waiver revocation. Congress, she said, needs to take swift action to revise No Child Left Behind.

“What’s most important now is that we all do our part to rectify this situation,” she said. “From the congressional viewpoint, that means working to update the outdated No Child Left Behind law in a way that works for our state, supports our teachers, and meets the needs of students today. 

But Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said the waiver termination sets a “worrisome precedent.”

“This shows how massively the Obama administration has extended the U.S. Department of Education’s reach,” he said. “Secretary Duncan is now punishing Washington state and reimposing provisions of a law that he has termed broken because its Legislature failed to heed his mandate governing teacher and principal evaluation — a mandate that has no grounding in statute.”

Here's what will happen:

The loss of the waiver has several practical and potentially far-reaching consequences. It means that local districts will have less flexibility to use about $38 million a year in federal Title I funds. They will likely be required to spend millions of that funding on private tutoring services for at-risk students. Another $19 million in Title I money may be reallocated for professional development and teacher training.

The state will also have to notify parents in low-performing schools that they have the right to transfer their children to stronger schools. The state will have to provide transportation for those children, paying for it out of federal funds. Washington also will have less flexibility to direct funding to schools that the state thinks need it most. Instead, it will have to follow federal guidelines for which schools merit priority status.

Perhaps most troubling for the state, the waiver revocation means nearly every school in Washington will labeled as failing under NCLB. Under the law, every child was supposed to be doing math and reading at grade level by this school year — a nearly impossible task. The waivers the department has extended exempted states from meeting that 100 percent proficiency goal.

So that mean the district budget will have to be rearranged to meet these needs.  The district will have to backfill money that would have come under Title One for specific uses.  The district has not, in the past, used anywhere near all its Title One dollars and I doubt that will change in the near future.

It also means that nearly every single school in our district will be labeled "failing."  Naturally, people involved with the district all know that is NOT true and I honestly don't believe any thinking voter would believe it, either.  (What might be interesting is the any school not failing could find parents clamoring to get in under NCLB rules.) 

That 42 states have waivers should tell you something. 
More than 30 states and the District of Columbia currently are up for one-year waiver extensions.

This waiver nonsense IS nonsense.  Washington State stood up to the Secretary and he didn't like it.   We should just continue on and not let this kind of blackmail mean anything to the public education work being done in our state. 


Charlie Mas said...

42 states have waivers. This law has already been repealed and replaced by the waiver provisions dictated by the Secretary of Education. The legislative power of the Congress has been usurped by the DoE.

Mess said...

' The legislative power of the Congress has been usurped by the DoE"

Charlie makes a good point.

mirmac1 said...

Revocation of waivers. Yet another nexus of crazy Tea Partiers and anti Ed-Reformers. Hope this burns Obama where it hurts.

Anonymous said...

Let's get the story straight. The legislature succeeded in supporting students, teachers, and real education. I think what Inslee and Dorn meant to say, was the legislature failed to kowtow to the Broad-Duncan cartel.


Anonymous said...

Do we have any candidates for Supe to replace Dorn? He sounds like he'd be a better fit in the US Dept of Ed than here.


Sara said...

Crazy. I just saw the charter school segment on PBS news hour and Kuomo basically forced NYC to give space for free to the charter schools. Unfortunate!

Patrick said...

If Duncan wanted to make an example of one state that didn't toe the line, I guess Washington is one to choose. We didn't do what his buddies wanted, and we're a safe Democratic state as far as Congressional and Presidential elections go, so nothing to lose there.

disgusted said...

We all know that the waiver has provided better support services for children. Returning to NCLB will provide inferior support services to children. This is worse than silly!

So, if scores go down due to worse support systems...will Duncan et. al blame the teachers?!

Anonymous said...

I think I may disagree, Patrick. If anything, many Dem voters I know aren't overly thrilled with Dems at the national level and this action was pretty much the icing on the cake. My downstairs neighbor (an administrator somewhere up north) yelled to me tonight that she was going to register independent or Green party, and that Dems could not count on her or her family to vote for the party anymore. I doubt she'll vote GOP, but I can easily see her going for Sanders should he choose to run for president.

The message from the House Dems was well-worded and (I think) hit all the right messages - fed vs state control, exercising power, etc.

Additionally, Patty Murray should be the ranking member on the ed committee now that Miller the fake-Dem is retiring, so she will have some leverage over Duncan. She does have education experience - preschool teacher - and has been a bit more aware of the issues than most of the other clueless ones in Congress.

I was just looking over the code gives Duncan the power to grant waivers.
Did WA State get a hearing?


Anonymous said...

The only words I can think of in response begin with the letter F. Sorry, but this is ridiculous, meaningless pestering by Duncan. It feeds into a narrative that only the fringe support.


Melissa Westbrook said...

F, very good point. Why keep making things easier for those on the fringe?

Ragweed said...

The thing I really like about this is that under Every Child Left Behind, even APP at Lincoln is a failed school (cause their test scores in 3rd and 4th are only 99.3%, and the standard is 100%)

Failed Law!

mirmac1 said...

I'll bet a Change.org petition with every single WA parent signature would give Obama and the Demos pause.

Anonymous said...

Diane Ravitch suggests in her blog post on this that the State of Washington should sue the Secretary of Education for overreaching his powers. That was the first thing that came to my mind too--would it be possible? Is it in the works already? Also, she reports that yesterday, the governor of Tennessee repealed their agreement to tie evaluations to test scores. Just 40 more states to go. . .

Anonymous said...

CT, Diane Ravitch, et al, Washington's waiver wasn't revoked, terminated, or withdrawn. Washington's provisional waiver --- it was never fully approved --- was good through this school year 2013-14. Washington was requesting an extension and renewal of their waiver. Technically, the action Duncan has taken is to deny that extension/renewal --- again, he did not revoke, terminate, or withdraw the waiver. Therefore, no hearing is required, CT, and no one is suing anyone, Diane. Both of those actions would be a further waste of time, effort, and money.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Tennessee was once held up by Corporate Reformers as one of the bright spots of the new-new-new education philosophy.

To see that it is withdrawing from the DOE teacher evaluation pointless and meaningless bureaucracy has to be a fat blow to Duncan and no doubt hurts his cause far more than he has hurt ours.


Anonymous said...

CT, let me clear up a few things. Patty Murray is a Senator and a member of the US Senate. George Miller is a Representative and a member of the US House of Representatives. Rep. Miller is indeed retiring and is the Senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Rep. Kline (R) is the chair of that committee.

Sen. Murray is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions but she is not the senior Democrat. The chairman of the committee is Sen. Tom Harkins (D), who is also retiring. The Ranking Member is Sen. Lamar Alexander (R). Ranking Member in the Senate refers to the senior member of the minority party on the committee. The Republicans are the minority in the US Senate; therefore, Sen. Alexander is the Ranking Member. Patty Murray would not be referred to as a Ranking Member of any committee in the US Senate as long as the Democrats are the majority party.

When Sen. Harkins retires, Sen. Murray would still not be the senior Democrat. That goes to Sen. Mikulski. Besides, it is not Sen. Murray's role on the education committee that would get Duncan's attention but her roles on several appropriations committees and her role in the Senate Democratic Leadership. She is the 5th highest ranking Democrat in the leadership.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Thank you, swk for answering my question about the hearing, and for the legislative layout. Unfortunately working 2 jobs does not always leave time to keep track of all the changes.


Anonymous said...

Interesting take on this here about opting out:


Anonymous said...

CT, sometimes being a total policy nerd like me has its benefits. [My wife has her doubts, though.] ;-)

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Please start a petition and tell me where to sign mirmac!


mirmac1 said...


I was hinting maybe someone who knows about this stuff start one! : ) I'll sign it! I'll bet Ravitch will post it on her blog and it will get national attention.

Wondering said...

swk or Ct,

Are you saying that NCLB is in existence with the exception of waivers?

There are hints that Duncan has over-stepped his boundaries and Congress should be making determinations regarding NCLB and waivers.

What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Wondering, NCLB is very much still in existence. The waivers provide states with flexibility in regard to certain provisions of the law but the waivers did not repeal the law. The Secretary of Education does not have the authority to repeal the law. Only Congress can repeal (or reauthorize) NCLB.

However, the Secretary of Education does have the authority, granted under NCLB itself, to "waive any statutory or regulatory requirement" within the law.

Whether or not these specific waivers overstep his authority is a question that is above my pay grade to answer.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Like many other states, Washington had a waiver to exempt it from some of the more ridiculous requirements of NCLB, like the fact that 100% of students are supposed to be reading and doing math "at grade level" by 2014. NCLB is still in existence - has been even though it ESEA (the original name) was supposed to be reauthorized several years ago and hasn't been - but among other things that the waiver allowed WA to do was not spend its money on privatized supplemental services (like tutoring by outside companies - think Sylvan) and hire reading specialists and other staff within districts. This flexibility is now gone since the waiver was not renewed, and all the penalties that come with NCLB will now be in force, which basically means telling all the parents their kid attends a failing school and (possibly) implementing the non-research-based methods (firing principals, firing all staff, converting to charters, etc) for "school improvement" that the Bush admin pulled out of their arses are now out there for whatever percentage of our schools are considered failing by the Fed terms.
There are other things that the waiver allowed that I'm sure swk can relate better than I, but to me the big one was the tutoring, as NCLB allowed for the largest expansion of public ed funds being privatized to date. Lots of research on how poorly that money was used, how many fly-by-night "tutoring" companies popped up - mostly in less-regulated places like Florida and Arizona - but still happening even here. I have a couple of good studies that detail just how much of the budget the "supplemental services" comprised, but I suspect I only have them in print form.


Anonymous said...

Yay - EPRU has a digital copy of at least one of them. Try this:
It may be a bit technical, but you can probably get what you want to know out of it.


Anonymous said...

And here's WA's waiver request:

and another study on NCLB - specifically AYP.


Wondering said...

Duncan just cut off his nose to spite his face and it is incredibly sad that children will receive inferior supports.

Always best to do no harm.
What would happen if school districts refused to hand the dollars- over to tutoring companies? What if the state refused to send-out letters?

Charlie Mas said...

That funnymonkey article had an interesting point.

Since every school and district in Washington state will be measured and found wanting there is no longer any (federal) reason to administer the tests anymore. I think the OSPI has their own interests in the tests, but the OSPI has no enforcement authority. This means that elementary and middle schools have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO LOSE by completely opting out of the MSP.

They can just skip it and they will be no worse off than if they had taken it.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Mas says "elementary and middle schools have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO LOSE by completely opting out of the MSP."

Well, let me see if I can come up with a few things: (1) The MSP is a state test and has been adopted by state law and local school boards are required to enforce all state laws. School boards that do not require all district schools to administer the MSP would be violating state law. Citizens who would like to know how a school is performing could sue the board for violation of state law. (2) A school that refuses to administer the MSP would be in violation of NCLB and could lose all of their Title I dollars. Why would a school that doesn't feel it necessary to administer their NCLB assessments feel that it should receive NCLB dollars? Title I dollars are NCLB dollars. (3) A principal that chooses to not follow federal, state, and local school board policies could be fired for cause.

These are just off the top of my head. While these things might not come to pass, it is irresponsible to suggest that "elementary and middle schools have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO LOSE by completely opting out of the MSP." The school has much to lose potentially.

--- swk

Lynn said...


So if my kid's school (which does not receive Title I dollars) chose not to administer the MSP the repercussions would be against the principal and the school board? The test seems like a waste of instructional time to me - and significant investments in equipment will be required in order to give the new common core aligned exams next year. What benefit does a student, teacher or school get from giving the MSP? (Other than avoiding punishment.)

Charlie Mas said...

Let me correct myself.

School communities - students and their families - have nothing to lose from opting out of the MSP.

Of course, those who are not at Title I schools never had anything to lose by opting out.

Melissa Westbrook said...

'Are you saying that NCLB is in existence with the exception of waivers?"

Of course it is still in existence (especially for the other 8 states). NCLB is not just about testing (even if it seems that way).

Of course Charlie is right. It's the job of the state and the feds to make it sound very dramatic if schools and districts don't toe the line but that's very different very the effect on parents.

Florahmelda said...

Event management assignment writing services are essential and they have become very popular for those seeking event management essay writing help services since most of them seek Event Management Writing Services.