Last week I shared a letter from David Iseminger to Secretary Duncan sharing his thinking about the loss of our state's NCLB waiver with his message basically saying it isn't worth it. Then later in the week Danny Westneat in his Seattle Times column told Duncan to take "No Child" school testing and shove it. As with Iseminger's letter, I find myself agreeing with Westneat's position.
I’m writing because the other day you announced that my state, alone among the 50, had run afoul of your desired standardized-testing regimen. So we’re going to be subjected to all the penalties and punishments of that 2001 law.
I remember 2001. Those were the days of you’re either with us or against us. So it’s fitting that your edict means that unless 100 percent of our students pass math and reading tests this year, all our schools will be dubbed “failing.” You’re either above average or you’re failures!
With all respect, doesn’t that seem a tad stupid? A few years ago, you yourself pronounced this top-down, testing-fueled mania to be simple-minded and broken.
“By mandating and prescribing one-size-fits-all solutions, No Child Left Behind took away the ability of local and state educators to tailor solutions to the unique needs of their students,” you told Congress, adding that the law is “fundamentally flawed.”
Chicago Post-Tribune article we find that Indiana may be the next state to lose a waiver as they have been asked by Duncan for updates on their teacher evaluation system and are also potentially in trouble for dumping Common Core standards and national tests. If they were to also lose a waiver it would mean many more "failing school" letters this fall that will contribute to the push back against the federal education department's encroachment into public education and mandate for standards and testing. Duncan may want to consider Westneat's words below. As he flexes the federal muscle it may appear like accountability to many, but for others it may be the flame fanning the fire that consumes the department's one size fits all reform model.
I’ll close by saying I think you’re messing with the wrong state. You should try to change this “fundamentally flawed” law, rather than impose it on us out of pique. A prediction: We like to do our own thing out here anyway, and your action will only fuel more boycotts of these tests, as well as suspicion of the entire education-reform industry.
Signed, NCLB Dad in Seattle