Sunday, March 16, 2014

Now we wait . . .

As expected, the legislators adjourned late last week in a session that put most big issues off until the next year.  Once again the philosophical gap between leadership in both houses was too difficult to close for agreement on a transportation package and even on a capital budget.  As far as education issues went they put some money on to basic education, but not what the Governor was requesting or most felt was needed to met the requirements in the State Supreme Court's letter to full fund basic education.  Secretary Dorn's frustration is evident in this statement that followed the session closure.

The adjournment of the 2014 Legislature has turned my uncertainty to frustration.
Legislators had three education responsibilities this session. They needed to add the $400 million to basic education. They needed to come up with a plan to meet McCleary by 2018, as the Supreme Court directed in a Jan. 9 order. And they needed to pass a bill to secure our state’s No Child Left Behind waiver.
They did none of those things. In my estimation, they failed in their duty: to the state Constitution, to voters and most important to our public school students.
Unexpectedly, they were not able to reach agreement on a bill to require the use of state test scores in teacher and principal evaluations.  As I shared in earlier posts this was a surprise to me.  With the Governor and Secretary Dorn heavily lobbying for the change it became clear last week with the big push by WEA that it would be difficult to find the votes creating the possibility of losing the federal NCLB waiver.  Now we wait and see what Secretary Duncan will do.  

A big issue that they did take action on was the delay of the 1080 hour requirement until the 2015-16 school year.  In the same bill they altered the requirement to allow for grade level averages that provides some flexibility to continue our staff development Fridays in some format beyond next year.  The bill gained enough votes partly because it also included implementation of the Core 24 graduation requirement with the Class of 2019 by moving money from staff development to support for increasing the credits required for graduation.

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