Sunday, May 3, 2015

My Position on the Senate ESEA Reauthorization Draft | deutsch29

My Position on the Senate ESEA Reauthorization Draft | deutsch29:

My Position on the Senate ESEA Reauthorization Draft

I have read (and reread certain sections of) the entire 601-page Senate reauthorization draft of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), written by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray and named the Every Child Achieves  Act of 2015.
I have also read the 29 amendments that were added to the Act as it gained approval from the Senate Ed Committee on April 16, 2015.
In an effort to offer my readers a digest of the massive Senate ESEA draft, I wrote a series of six posts that can be accessed here. I also did the same for the 29 amendments, which resulted in a series of three posts that can be accessed here.
During this massive undertaking, I have had individuals asking about my position on the Senate ESEA draft. Even though some of my posts include glimpses into my thoughts about the Alexander-Murray draft (and now, its included 29 amendments), I have not yet offered a summative word regarding my opinion of this proposed ESEA reauthorization.
I will do so now.
Until something happens, whether that “something” is a new version of ESEA or killing ESEA, school districts across America are stuck with George W. Bush’s infamously ridiculous and punitive version of ESEA known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In short, NCLB told America that there would be “100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014″ or else teachers, administrators, schools, school districts, and states would pay. The premise of NCLB is that teachers and administrators could be scared into producing a never-before-known (in any country) level of test-centered “proficiency.” And states were set up to “prove” they were on the road to this perfection by setting up their own “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) toward this perfect goal, which was perched precariously on the test scores of at least 95 percent of a state’s students. Not achieving AYP could result in dire consequences, including the firing teachers and administration as part of school “restructuring.” (For an excellent summary of NCLB consequences, see Diane Ravitch’s Death and Life of the Great American School System, pgs. 97-98.)
As one might expect in such a ridiculous high-stakes situation, in an effort to avoid NCLB consequences, states gamed the system to create AYP goals that they could achieve.
An entire nation of school districts boasting “100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014″ was not to be, and any individual with a sliver of common sense knew it.
So, 2014 has come and gone, and states remain under NCLB until ESEA is either completely done away with or redrafted and reauthorized. And by “under NCLB,” that means states are subject to the likes of US Secretary Arne Duncan’s NCLB “waivers,” in which he has decided to leverage control over both state standards and teacher evaluation. Otherwise, without one of his “on my terms” NCLB waivers, Duncan can declare any state as having failed to meet that unrealistic NCLB goal of “100 percent proficiency in reading and math.”
Stupid, I know. But that is where we are (and where we remain) until something happens to dismiss or replace the ESEA version known as NCLB.
Now, I mentioned that one option is to completely do away with ESEA. That is my preferred position, one that I wrote about on February 1, 2015. That post included an email I wrote to Alexander in which I suggested that ESEA be sunsetted in favor of separate block grants.
The reality is that ESEA will not be laid to rest. It will continue, and either Congress will fail in its efforts to reauthorize it and default for another seven years to NCLB (which means NCLB “waivers”)–or– Congress will reauthorize a new version of ESEA.
There are two versions currently in the running, one originating in the House (Kline’sHR 5, the Student Success Act) and the Senate (Alexander and Murray’s Every Child Achieves Act of 2015). Both bills propose to retain the mandatory annual state testing in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school in both English language arts (ELA) and math. Both bills encourage charter school growth and expansion. Both include language forbidding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as a federal mandate. HR 5 includes language to make Title I money “follow the student,” which would be an accounting and budgeting nightmare.
I think the Senate draft is the better of the two bills. It appears to be a true, Republican-Democratic negotiation that could garner the votes needed to rid America of NCLB (and Duncan’s waivers), and it does not include portability of Title I funding.
As for the charter love in the Senate ESEA draft, I do not support the encouragement My Position on the Senate ESEA Reauthorization Draft | deutsch29: