"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Arne Duncan's Waivers and "Upping our Game".

Arne Duncan has been dribbling in half-truths while implementing his goals for education. Common core standards are to be "voluntary" and "state led", but states were threatened with the withholding of Title I funding if they did not "voluntarily" agree to become participants in the national standards plan. Consortias are to be "state led", however, they are being funded by private companies with federal money.

Yesterday we wrote about Duncan's waivers to NCLB mandates to certain states:

With the new school year fast approaching and still no bill to reform the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind, the Obama administration will provide a process for states to seek relief from key provisions of the law, provided that they are willing to embrace education reform.

What wasn't clear from this DOE statement is exactly what education reform was called for by Arne Duncan. Let's look at Duncan's stated goals for education reform from EdWeek:

• There would be three kinds waivers under No Child Left Behind, and states would have to sign up for all of them—it wouldn't be an either/or thing. This is something Duncan made clear in the initial waiver announcement.

• To waive the 2014 deadline for all students to be proficient in math and language arts, states would have to adopt college- and career-readiness standards and assessments. It's not clear yet what that would mean. But, presumably, Common Core would be involved. Student growth could be used to measure achievement.

• To essentially freeze in place the law's system of sanctions, states would have to propose their own differentiated accountability systems that would incorporate growth and establish new performance targets. States also would have to establish differentiated school improvement systems that more accurately meet the needs of schools with different challenges. The accountability systems would not have to include choice or free tutoring. Districts also no longer would have to set aside Title I money for such programs.

To waive the law's highly qualified teacher requirement and get funding flexibility, states would have to adopt evaluation systems for teachers and principals that are based on growth and make sure districts actually do what they say they're going to do.

Are these more federal mandates masquerading as local control so states can escape the "impossible to reach" federal mandates already in place? It sure sounds like it.

If you have some time, read this release from The White House on education:

"A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can out-compete countries around the world. America's business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game. That's why we’re working together to put an outstanding education within reach for every child" (emphasis added)

1 comment:

  1. Upping our game must mean the same thing as calling ourselves a AAA country.

    We're sinking but hey! We're all about self-esteem!


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