Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Connecticut sues over NCLB

Connecticut has sued over the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Two-thirds of the state's school boards have signed on.

A sign of things to come?


At Wednesday, January 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're following the news, then you know this is nothing new. Several other similar lawsuits have been filed, and they have all been tossed out by the courts.

Schools have a simple escape if they do not want to follow the NCLB accountability expectations. Just turn down the money. As the courts and the Congressional Budget Office have already concluded, you do not have an "unfunded mandate" when participation is optional.

At Thursday, January 19, 2006, Blogger Shelley said...

Schools, simple, NCLB, money, optional - seeing all of those words in the
same paragraph sent me searching for answers. Nothing is ever simple when it
comes to schools and funding.

Found some interesting information here
outlining consequences and effects of opting-out of NCLB at the state and school
district levels.

At Thursday, January 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, please read the link provided by Shelley. It is not an easy read, but the conclusion really is simple. Just as was said earlier, if a school does not want to demonstrate improvement in academics in return for reeiving federal funds, then it can turn down the funds. And as the link also explains, the school (or state) would still be eligible to recieve other federal funds, for which the performance expectations are not as high.

Besides, what really is the "mandate" of NCLB. It's not the standards, because Indiana was already creating those. It's not the testing, because Indiana was already doing that. The bottom line is that NCLB requires a PORTION of Title I funds (repeat: a PORTION!) to be put under the control of parents for choice of tutoring or a new school if their assigned school cannot demonstrate improvement. (A lot of countries and some states provide these types of choices from the onset, regardless of school performance!) Yes, there are other sanctions if the school continues not to make improvement, but those sanctions include a LOT of options, including something as simple as hiring a consultant to help them improve.

And besides, if the sanctions ever get too onerous, there is always that option to simply turn down the money. Thanks, Shelley, for helping to confirm how simple this is!

At Thursday, January 19, 2006, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

A couple of humble observations:
People just don't seem to grasp, the deep-down reason why most educators aren't in favor of NCLB. It is NOT a fear of accountability despite what you think. I think educators have accepted school accountability (perhaps reluctantly.) I have been a superintendent a fairly long time (superintendent years tend to be like dog years - multiply by 7 or something) and I believe the organizations I am familiar with have finally embraced the idea of continuous progress. Charts, graphs and trendlines are everywhere around here. It's a daily conversation, "Where are we and where do we need to be?" The problem is NOT accountability. It is the growing fear of ..."What will America be like if we are actually successful?"

What no one is talking about is what schools will have to give up to truly meet NCLB standards of 100% proficiency on a state test - by 2013-2014?

Why is 100% success unlikely?

The problem is that our locally elected lay officials have to operate in a political governance structure. The drastic sacrifices and program changes it takes to approach 100% proficiency is not very likely in a political arena.

It is pretty hard to imagine your local factory or business holding public hearings to determine whether or not they should shut down a product line and focus on their core products or services. Picture that. Hard to visualize. What I CAN visualize is top management sitting down in planning sessions and vigorously debating trends and philosophies until ultimately consensus is reached or top managements says, "Thanks for your input - but here is what we are going to do." This is seldom possible in a political governance structure except for in the extreme short term.

You will find pockets of success here and there. But to see massive changes across the nation will take sacrifices that local communities and locally elected officials are not likely to embrace.

Most school boards face tremendous local resistance when they tackle the simplest of programming changes. Add something? No problem to the public. Take something away? Look out.

That folks, is the political reality.

At Thursday, January 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) What WOULD schools have to give up for 100% of their kids to be proficient in Reading, Math & Science? Sounds pretty good to me. If you have the solution, let's get to it!

2) Let's not forget, the ISTEP test is intended to measure MINIMUM proficiency expectations. It is NOT a measure of college readiness, excellence or anything of the sort. How many times have you talked with an average student in an average school who has said the ISTEP was "so easy it's embarrassing?" I can't count the number of times I've heard that. In the words of those same mediocre students, what does it take to actually fail???

3) Your business analogy completely forgets who is the customer -- and for that reason is totally off base. A supplier to GM, for example, does not take their customer's ideas, consider theirs, gather others and then make decisions themselves. GM gives them specifications - down to the thousanths of an inch (or even smaller) -- and if the supplier does not meet those expectations PRECISELY, then they are fired, at best, or more likely, fined substantially for causing a shutdown of the GM assembly line. As a school superintendent, you have no more luxury to dictate the needs of society than does the supplier have the luxury to dictate GM's needs. I know from your comments that you have absolutely no sense of how the business world really works. It is also clear that you are confused about your own authority. You work for your community and the state -- not the other way around.

4) Let's repeat what this NCLB debate is really all about: If a school (or a superintendent like the one running this list) says they cannot or does not get their kids above the MINIMUM proficiency levels, then that school must allow the parents to take a SMALL portion of the money appropriated for their child's education to seek tutoring or a choice of another public school -- so that maybe, just maybe, their child will have a chance in life. THAT is what educators like SUPER object to. If they cannot educate the kids assigned to them, then they do want to give anyone else the chance to prove it can be done. That's the REAL "deep down reason" that some educators hate NCLB.

At Friday, January 20, 2006, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

3. You said my business analogy is off then you said, "I know from your comments that you have absolutely no sense of how the business world really works. It is also clear that you are confused about your own authority. You work for your community and the state -- not the other way around."

That IS my point. I absolutely work for the community. My point is that there is a great divide between what people like you are advocating at the policy setting level in the legislatures of America - and what the local community pressures their school boards for. By and large, Americans like their expansive curriculums based on breadth not depth. They WANT art, music, phys ed, orchestras, swimming teams, soccer tournaments etc etc. Our school boards respond to them, and I answer to the board.

It's a democracy. While I don't have management experience in private industry, my friends in private business say it would be near impossible to do what they do at the speed they do it in, in the democratic - open environment that schools operate in. They can move much more quickly, respond to trends and changes in technology and customer tastes and do what needs to be done. Which often involves drastic restructuring - without holding monthly public hearings, school board votes and DLGF hearings etc etc.

No one is talking about the governance structure of school boards right now. The slow pace that is inherent in the open-environment of a school system "democracy" makes drastic changes difficult.

My premise is that America's citizens are not likely to embrace the drastic changes necessary to approach 100% on NCLB. The political realities are - it is easy for board members to add something - hard for the board members to take it away.

Why? Because they answer to their customers - the voters and their children and grandchildren.

It sems popular to blame the educrats these days - but no individual educrat created the system. We have been doing our best within the system. It has been here through the decades as America has led the world in almost every way. Whether it is the best system for the future - I can't say.

If a big, slow STABLE system is needed - America has it. If we need a nimble, quickly responsive educational system - something has to change.


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