Monday, June 13, 2011

The push back begins . . .

Today brought much more response in the blogosphere to Secretary Duncan’s comments last week about potential waivers to the 100% meeting standard in reading and math by 2014. Once again I found multiple links at This Week In Education beginning with this summary from Education Week. The main theme that ran through those I read is that granting waivers for Race to the Top style reforms will come with push-back from elected officials and others.

In this FLYPAPER post titled Arnius Duncanus, Mike Petrilli warns:

But don’t try to tie this stuff to new, made-up mandates. That will only get NCLB implementation embroiled in a lawsuit (which you’ll lose) and acrimonious charges of imperialism (which will be well-founded).

Some bloggers feel that Duncan and President Obama are threatening congress in an effort to have a new ESEA blueprint by the start of the school year, something that is not likely to happen. Though one would think that there would be enough common ground between democrats and republicans on this issue (NCLB), the dynamics in Washington D.C. are not conducive to crafting something as complex as a reauthorization at this time. See this EDUWONK post for some insight on this.

Frederick Hess sums it up with these words.

Living in a nation of laws means that it matters not only what public officials do, but how they do it. Yet, as with "Edujobs," TARP, RTT, federal funding for the Common Core, gainful employment regulation, and much else, Duncan has shown little interest in such highfaluting concerns. Rather, in the classic Chicago style, the attitude seems to be that if the administration wants to do it, that's good enough--whatever the statutory or Constitutional complexities, and regardless of whether this is all likely to turn out as intended.

The push back has started and there hasn’t been an official announcement that waivers are even a reality. I’m hoping that the need to force reform as a condition doesn’t result in losing the potential for waivers. As I said yesterday, it is a bad law that needs to be changed. Forcing reform will not result in change that sustains increased achievement for all students over time. When will those in positions of authority understand that forcing states to accept conditions and programs will not create the results that they purport to want?

So, why care?  The sanctions for not meeting AYP will continue as long as the requirements of NCLB are in place.  Schools and school systems will be labeled as failing even if they are achieving gains in achievement, but are not on course for 100% by 2014.  Few schools large enough to qualify under all categories will escape this label as the deadline approaches.  All means every student at standard.  It won't happen by 2014 unless the standards are lowered, something that we don't want to happen.  Once again, it is time for realistic goals for EVERY student and support structures to achieve them, not sanctions to punish those that can never reach them.

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