What Washington State’s loss the No Child Left Behind waiver and nearly $40 million in education funds isn’t about… from Peter Callaghan of the News Tribune,
- It wasn’t about “high-stakes testing.” Washington state first mandated students to prove proficiency through standardized testing in 1993.
- It wasn’t about whether student test scores should be a factor in teacher and principal evaluations. That was required by legislation passed in 2012.
- It wasn’t about adding another test to the array already given to students. The statewide tests that the federal government wanted included in teacher and principal evaluations have been given and will continue to be given.
- It wasn’t about the power of the federal government and its role in education. That is well-established as members of Congress from both parties enjoy tying strings to all federal money that flows to states and school districts.
- It isn’t even about Secretary of Education Arne Duncan throwing his weight around. That’s because the waiver he is offering the states is meant to relieve them of the burdens of a federal law that passed in 2001 with good intentions but bad results.
What is it about?
Well, Democrats did not “become born-again states’ rights advocates.” It’s about the Washington Educations Association telling Democrats to jump and Democrats asking how high.
“The difference, therefore, between the evaluation system already in place and the system that would have allowed the state to retain its waiver under No Child Left Behind is minuscule…
Yet the leadership of the Washington Education Association made this a line-in-the-sand fight for its members — and for Democrats who want the union’s support. They used apocalyptic language, belatedly adopted by Democratic leaders in the Legislature, that doing what the feds wanted would damage our education system.
It worked, I guess. The Democrats helped block this slight change to existing teacher and principal evaluation law and, as expected, the state lost its waiver. Having to abide by a federal law that everyone says is flawed will — at most — do damage to the state’s poorest students, and — at least — create headaches for schools, districts and the state. And it will result in nearly every school in the state being labeled “failing,” both those that are indeed failing and those that are giving impoverished kids a fighting chance at success.”