On Tuesday, eight of the nation’s state education lead administrators released a statement which declared their opposition to the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Boards Association’s request for a blanket waiver from the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
“As an organization dedicated to putting students first through visionary education reform, Chiefs for Change opposes the recent petition by the American
Association of School Administrators and the National School Board Association to suspend the accountability provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the interventions provided to students.”
“We support the swift reauthorization of ESEA.
Chiefs for Change has outlined principles to guide Congress as it works to improve federal policy. Providing a blanket waiver to all states will bring
negotiations on reauthorization to a standstill, creating uncertainty for states and potentially threatening the progress that has been made by many states to improve the quality of education for students across America.”
“We support more federal flexibility, including the
use of targeted waivers, but only when such flexibility supports education reform and when it is earned based upon state actions that have produced greater student achievement. Blanket regulatory relief would weaken accountability and more importantly, deny students critical educational
services and options.”
“Reauthorization provides an opportunity to improve
ESEA, renew our commitment to America’s children and transform education for the 21st century without rolling back our expectations for students and the adults who educate them. State and education leaders should seize the moment to be innovative in improving the quality of education in America.”
The associations which represent school boards and school administrators are obviously concerned that under current ESEA authorization in 2014, 80% of the nation’s schools will be considered to be failing. Appearing before a House Committee in March, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan admitted as much:
“This law has created dozens of ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed. We should get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair and flexible, and focused on the schools and students most at risk,” Duncan told the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Under the No Child Left Behind law, originally passed in 2001, all students are expected to meet a level of “proficiency” by 2014. Because standards under No Child Left Behind are higher from year to year as 2014 approaches, the percentage of schools that are not meeting “Adequate Yearly Progress” could rise from the current level of 37% to 82%, Duncan said.
Duncan pointed out that federal law requires states and districts to “implement the same set of interventions in every school that is not meeting AYP, regardless of the individual needs and circumstances of those schools.”
Under the Education Department’s estimates, 82% of America’s schools “could be labeled ‘failing’ and, over time, the required remedies for all of them are the same — which means we will really fail to serve the students in greatest need,” said Duncan.
“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,” Duncan said calling the concept “fundamentally flawed.”
As the nation’s school boards and administrators have joined the Secretary of Education in a desire for a blanket waiver to protect schools from being labeled as failing under a flawed system, one wonders what motivation eight state education heads have in seeing so many of their schools fail.
It could be that the Chiefs for Change see a benefit in having so many failing schools to impose the sort market based reforms they favor. Two of the Chiefs for Change – Chris Cerf of New Jersey and Deborah Gist of Delaware are graduates of the controversial Broad Superintendents Academy, long known to be advocates of charter schools. Outgoing Florida Commissioner Eric Smith knows that new legislation provides an easier mechanism for charter school takeovers in his state.
Continuing the current ESEA/No Child Left Behind empowers the Chiefs for Change. What would they do with such power?