Skip to main content

Arne Duncan
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (Official photo)
As promised, the Obama administration has started providing some details of the No Child Left Behind waivers it will be issuing to states:
Senior administration officials said waivers will be awarded to states that adopt academic standards that ensure their high school graduates are ready for college or a career, measure school performance not merely by test results but by student improvement over time, and evaluate teachers and principals using a variety of measures, including but not limited to student test scores.

States will be required to launch “rigorous” campaigns to turn around their lowest-performing schools — the bottom 5 percent. And they will have to devise ways to focus on students with the greatest needs in another 10 percent of schools with low graduation rates or large achievement gaps between students of different races. States will also have greater flexibility with about $1 billion in funding for schools attended by poor children.

States will still be required to test all children in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school and report results by subgroups — including race, English learners and students with disabilities — so it is clear how every student is faring.

The plan drew a positive response from the National Education Association:

“President Obama has taken a welcome step forward with this plan.  It sets much more realistic goals for schools, while maintaining ESEA’s original commitment to civil rights, high academic standards and success for every student,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

“Teachers have been sounding the alarm on NCLB’s test-label-punish approach for more than 10 years.  Now, there is an opportunity to move forward with real reform, especially for the most disadvantaged students,” said Van Roekel.

“Educators want commonsense measures of student progress, freedom to implement local ideas, respect for their judgment and the right to be a part of critical decisions,” said Van Roekel. “This plan delivers.”

The response from the American Federation of Teachers was more critical:

Some of what the administration proposes is promising, some is cause for concern, and there are missed opportunities that could have enhanced both teaching and learning.

We are pleased that the administration's proposal includes more options prospectively for improving low-performing schools, recognizing that many of the remedies prescribed in NCLB were not flexible enough. The proposal also acknowledges the importance of adopting higher college- and career-ready standards, which could include the Common Core State Standards, to prepare kids for a 21st-century knowledge economy.

However, after all we've learned about how to construct and implement meaningful teacher evaluation and development systems since Race to the Top was announced two years ago, we're disappointed that the lessons learned are not evident in this package. Evaluation needs to be more teaching-focused, not more testing-focused. Successful school districts in the United States and in the top-performing nations understand that teacher evaluation systems should be based on continuous improvement and support, not on simply sorting, and it's a missed opportunity not to follow their lead.

The American Association of School Administrators and the National School Board Association had also sent Education Secretary Arne Duncan a letter expressing concerns when the waiver plan was announced.

In the absence of No Child Left Behind reauthorization, schools should not be penalized for not meeting the conditions of a law that basically everyone agrees is terrible and broken. But there are two huge areas of concern about the administration's course of action. The specific conditions being placed on the waivers are poor policy, as the AFT noted, and it is a bad idea for the administration to claim the authority to attach its own agenda to to the waivers—this is exactly the kind of thing the next Republican to become president will run with about 10 miles farther than Obama, while pointing to Obama as precedent.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 03:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I honestly believe (11+ / 0-)

    that no Dept. of Education can fix our public schools without a complete commitment to impoverished communities on multiple levels.  No matter what the schools do to improve class size, teachers, instruction -- if a child goes home to all the ramifications of poverty or a depressed middle class -- learning is hampered.   Same is true of infrastructure -- if a kid has great teachers and curricula but a lousy school building -- they are hampered.  

    I'm a bottom up person -- not top down.  Try to fix the basic problems of every day sustenance and then build from there.  I taught for 12 years in both inner city and affluent schools.  The struggling students in each were struggling at home -- affluence doesn't mean a healthy environment for a child -- and poverty doesn't mean an unhealthy one.  

    Ok, I'm rambling, but there has to be more coordination between the Dept. of Ed and other agencies to rebuild our public education.  And it won't be frigging done if Republicans continue to get into office.

    Vi er alle norske " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 03:11:29 PM PDT

    •  In fact, we're doing the opposite. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greatferm, alizard, AverageJoe42

      Schools are being asked to substitute for a largely dismantled social safety net.  That's not their job and they won't be able to do it.

      Of course, to readdress the problems of poverty across this country would involve reinventing liberalism and departing from the Democratic Party's enthusiastic embrace of the market as the solution to everything over the last three decades or so.

      Of course it won't get done if Republicans continue to get into office.

      But the sad fact is that it also won't get done if today's Democrats do. As Arne Duncan's Department of Education suggests, mainstream Democrats have bought lock, stock, and barrel into the "reform" efforts that our currently the biggest threat to our system of public education. And whether out of neoliberal ideological conviction or simple defeatism, they've given up on any broader, social democratic solutions to the problem of poverty in this society.

      "[S]ince Obama keeps talking nonsense about economics, at what point do we stop giving him credit for actually knowing better? Maybe at some point we have to accept that he believes what he’s saying." --Paul Krugman

      by GreenSooner on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 12:34:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Are you kidding? NCLB is a total success! (10+ / 0-)

    (If the goal was to make billions from administering high stakes tests, demonize unionized teachers and privatize and profit from education at the expense of children and the future...)

  •  What is the (0+ / 0-)

    actual change?


    •  The actual change (5+ / 0-)

      is that Obama is celebrated as having ended NCLB when he has always actually been implementing Phase II.

      (Sorry for the non-straight answer. I'm rather sick of people giving Obama way more credit than he deserves at the first mention that he's doing something that maybe approximates the direction we want him to go in.)

      Formerly known as Jyrinx.

      “If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution.” ― Emma Goldman

      by Code Monkey on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 05:00:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There should be no federal education standards (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    until we know what works. Period.

    National governments in the 1800s did not create detailed regimes for physicists and chemists determining what data they needed to obtain, what needed to be studied. They figured it out on their own, with funding from various sources allowing for a wide range of priorities.

    Most of them failed, discovering nothing of interest. But a few of them discovered the periodic table, molecular biology, relativity, and quantum physics. Those changed everything. Those required bold thinkers, not incremental tinkerers.

    Teaching's still in the 1800s. Teachers want to expand, they want to create, they want to improve. We know there is so much more that teachers are capable of, and they want to get there. Most of them won't make it, but a few teachers will figure out brilliant new ways to teach. Our politicians won't.

    Politicians like Obama want to preserve a broken system in amber forever, only allowing incremental improvements (believing, as all politicians do, that progress is a state function and not a path function). He is working against our country, our teachers, and our kids.

    "Only idiots believe the earth is getting warmer. Besides, they've proven it's only getting warmer because of sunspots."

    by Carnet on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:30:18 AM PDT

    •  What works is flexibility (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, GreenSooner, greatferm, ladybug53

      Good teaching methods, differentiated teaching across different student abilities, using good sets of learning objectives, tests that are used for remediation, not punishment, respecting teachers, have functioning buildings, and lots of other things.

      Also...ensuring poor kids have a safe environment between school and home, eat properly before and after school, get enough sleep, have a healthy family life, and lots of other things.

      After the Republicans burn down the world, they will prove the Democrats did it.

      by jimraff on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:44:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Also...ensuring poor kids have a safe environment between school and home, eat properly before and after school, get enough sleep, have a healthy family life, and lots of other things.

        Of course, the way we used to address those issues was through Welfare as We Knew It.

        Now what happened to that again?

        "[S]ince Obama keeps talking nonsense about economics, at what point do we stop giving him credit for actually knowing better? Maybe at some point we have to accept that he believes what he’s saying." --Paul Krugman

        by GreenSooner on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 12:35:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Teacher evaluation can't be based on tests (6+ / 0-)

    My cousin is a Special Ed teacher teaching at a charter school. The organization she works for, that contracts with the school, didn't receive good ratings, so this year they have instituted procedures which make it much harder to give students one-on-one attention, makes her give tests constantly, and insures students may learn some things by rote, but will not really have an opportunity to learn how to learn, or have a personal investment with the teacher.

    On top of that, the new procedures, requiring tons more paper work and lesson plans, are so severe that many teachers in her org. have quit, including the other teacher assigned to her school. Now my cousin has double the responsibility, no time to finish any task really well, and is scrambling to keep up with the paper work, which involves 24-page reports on each student.

    The org. she works for won't even get her a half-day sub to help her until they can hire someone else. Yet if her students don't pass, it will be blamed on her. She is documenting everything so that she will have a defense. And the principal at her school is supporting her.

    But this is going on all over. Teachers are getting fired, other teachers are getting their workload doubled, and many students are not in the best learning environments -- given home situations, poverty, bullying, etc. Add to that the fact that people learn in different ways. Some are more spatial learners, some are more audio learners. We need to offer more experiential learning opportunities. And we need fewer kids in classes. More teachers, not less.

    And we definitely need a more fair, more accurate way to evaluate teachers.

    There are" three kinds of patriots, two bad, one good. The bad ones are the uncritical lovers and the loveless critics. Good patriots carry on a lover's quarrel with their country. . . ” -- William Sloane Coffin.

    by MillieNeon on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:31:57 AM PDT

  •  It should be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    No Child's Left with a Behind, since they selling their poor little butts down the river.

    There are" three kinds of patriots, two bad, one good. The bad ones are the uncritical lovers and the loveless critics. Good patriots carry on a lover's quarrel with their country. . . ” -- William Sloane Coffin.

    by MillieNeon on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:33:38 AM PDT

  •  Even the AFT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib

    we're a nation, not an economy.

    Politics is the art of changing what's possible.

    by happymisanthropy on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:34:24 AM PDT

  •  as an amateur photographer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenSooner, greatferm

    that is one goofy looking picture of arne duncan. to be the official photo, i just dont understand.

    war is immoral. both parties are now fully complicit in the wars. bring everyone home. get to work.

    by just want to comment on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:35:04 AM PDT

  •  Teaching and opinion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RJDixon74135, Mostel26, mj11051

    First, I think President Obama is trying.  Is what he presents perfect?  Is it gonna fix all the ills of the american public education system.  Of course not.  But, let's be honest.  What's it gonna look like if we have a repub prez along with a repub House and Senate?  What are they going to want...PHD's teaching elementary education?  Teachers and the entire american education isn't the problem.  The problem is in our current culture.  

    The kids that are above average and/or highly intelligent that live in the slums...growing up in households that have no "means"....well, they're hampered beyond anything their effort or intelligence can overcome.

    The true solution to better educated kids in America?  Solve the economic problems in America.  Give these families with kids a chance.  It's more than what you understand from textbooks or teacher's presentations.  FAR more.

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:43:10 AM PDT

  •  it's almost as if some of our currently elected (0+ / 0-)

    officials think that a for profit private education system the best answer. What motivates more than a profit?

    It'd be best for the current economic enviroment too doncha know.

  •  Occupy Wall Street Live Stream team arrested. (0+ / 0-)

    Live feed lost.

  •  We're still stuck with crappy testing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As bad as NCLB is/was, at least there was a rationale for forcing schools, teachers, and kids to participate in the testing — making AYP. Without the AYP stick and no carrots, what's the point of the tests now? Except to punish teachers while bleeding still more out of public eduction and into the pocket of the private for-profit testing industry.

    Please join United Opt Out National, the movement to end punitive public school testing, to review the research on the myths used to justify HTS and to see what you can do to help.

    I know which side I am on: the one that does the math.

    by Grassroots Mom on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 12:10:49 PM PDT

  •  Here's a giant problem with measuring studets' (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, alizard, ladybug53

    improvement over time: many of the most seriously at-risk schools have extraordinarily high turnover rates among students from year to year. The students who'll be tested this year are NOT the same kids who were taught in the school last year. Sure, measuring improvement over time will work in schools with stable student populations, but those are largely the schools with the fewest problems.  OTOH, in schools with high numbers of children of, for example, migrant farm workers, a teacher is lucky to have the same students in January he or she had in September.

    Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

    by RJDixon74135 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 12:12:35 PM PDT

  •  Our school was not meeting AYP (3+ / 0-)

    Last February the state came out to evaluate our school and make recommendations on how we could become proficient in Reading/Language Arts. I won't discuss how humiliating, insulting, and demoralizing this was.

    Three months later students took the test. When the scores came out a couple of months later, our RLA scores were the 4th highest among 10 school districts, but we still didn't make AYP. The 3 schools that scored higher have a free/reduced population of 22% compared to our 63%. In addition, we have 2 times as many special education students. If you look at those statistics, our school did show real progress and achievement......yet, according to NCLB our school failed. I don't know if "Race to the Top" will be any better, but I'm glad NCLB is on it's way out.


    by nipit on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 12:24:37 PM PDT

    •  Don't worry about it, soon there won't be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      any schools that meet the standard as come 2014 or 2016 (can't remember which) if a single student in the entire school fails the test then the entire school fails.  That's right, they will be expecting absolute perfection according to the NCLB standards.

      •  can you provide a cite to that? n/t (0+ / 0-)

        Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 07:21:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  TTBO s correct, though I don't have a citation. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          When the law came out, the requirement was by 2014 all students (100%) must test on grade level, and schools were given the time to ramp up to that. Our state set up targets/goals a school had to make -- percentages of kids each year attaining grade-level or beyond -- that you had to meet to reach "adequate yearly progress" or "AYP" which have been getting higher since the law mandates 100% by 2014. If you don't reach "AYP" each year, then your school is considered failing.
          Now the problem is, that goal of 100% is impossible! And reaching the various target goals on the way out also becomes impossible, depending on the school population. What if you've got kids with learning problems who have intellectual shortcomings? What if you have kids brand new to the country who don't speak/read English, even after the 1-year grace period they put in? No elementary school will reach 100%.
          Also, there is a second part to it - the subgroups. If you have a group of 40 kids (low income, English Language Learners, Special Ed. etc), they become a subgroup which also has to reach the goal for the year -- and if it does not, even though on the whole the rest of the school did, your school is again considered a failing school.
          Crazy! But it is the law of the land.

  •  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's photo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ivan, alizard

    looks like a very strange, glaring, wild-eyed, anti-union dude.

  •  Accountability for 'Best Practices' du jour from B (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Bill How Great Thou Art Gates, and his minions, and his astro turfs?

    Is there accountability for the incessant best practices from non scientific phony "research"?

    Is there accountability for the costs of the management double speak merry go round?

    (probably not, since no one is keeping track of the co$t$!)

    Is there accountability for the Wall Street Mess?

    Is there accountability for the disaster of health "care" turning into AHIP-Care?

    Hell No!

    Cuz Obama is taking care of HIS constituents - the upper middle class A$$PIRING rich yuppie sell outs who are the back bone of the DLC & Third Way & New Dems and all the rest of the yuppie Dem $ell out org$.

    While living under the fascist lies of Raygun I & II, Bush I (or Raygun III), and Bush II (Raygun Vi and VII)

    I hadn't voted for HOPE, only to be betrayed  by yuppie sell out scum!!

    Like under Clinton I and II (kind of Raygun IV and V) and Obama (Raygun VIII).

    I expected LIES from ronnie and darth -

    I'm fed up with 'em from the "leaders" on my side.


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 12:57:02 PM PDT

  •  to bad (0+ / 0-)

    theres no waiver provision in the law so this would be par for the course for a lawless administration.

  •  Just more RTT crap disguised as a favor... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ivan, alizard, ladybug53

    A few points:

    1) Teacher evaluations should be based on measures that are actually under teacher control, such as regular use of effective teaching practices and lesson presentation.

    2) Student test scores were not designed for nor ever intended to be used in individual teacher evaluation.  At best, they highlight trends at the school or district level - this is according to experts in the field.

    3) Politicians, both Rep and Dem, love an easy soundbite and keep pushing this as a lynchpin of education "reform."  There is zero research-based evidence that it would have any positive impact on student outcomes.

    4) Race to the Top is just NCLB Part 2 with a bigger helping of blame the teacher.  The fact that a Democratic President is pushing this garbage shows that he fundamentally misunderstands the challenges facing public education.

    5) Uncritical statements from the NEA should be understood in the context of the recent sellout of their membership and early endorsement of Obama in the hopes of gathering crumbs from his table.  At least the AFT had the courage to say it's a mixed bag.

    When you see Obama's education plan being sold as relief for public schools, don't believe the hype.  It's a little bit of relief mixed with a whole lot of arm-twisting over unproven/unworkable remedies.  But I guess that's OK since the testing industry will still make out like bandits.

  •  It was never about success... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    NCLB was never about successfully educating students. It was always about punishing schools and teachers, with the secondary purpose of pushing privatized education.

    In about 2005, the elementary school in Creighton, Nebraska, completed grueling amounts of paperwork documenting what had always been a very good educational program. (This is not Creighton U. or Creighton Prep in Omaha. The town is a small community of about 1600; the district is primarily rural and small town.) Lo and behold, the K-6 school was given a tremendous award as a NCLB "Blue Ribbon" school! If I remember right, it was the only public school in the Blue Ribbon list for Nebraska that year. Then-Rep. Tom Osborne came and made a nice presentation. Everybody felt pretty good.

    The next year was even better: Grades 7-12 in the same district received the same honor. Amazing! Since all these grades occupy the same building, it meant that goals were being reached from the Kindergarten on the north end to the choir room on the south end. I haven't done much research, but I can't remember another entire district being so honored.

    But here's what didn't happen. President Bush did not respond to requests for acknowledgment. No politician came to make the second presentation. But even more--no DoE officials came to find out what the school was doing right, or even to ask what best practices might be replicated elsewhere. No official from the school was consulted by any legislator, federal or state, about how legislation might affect (for good or ill) such success. At least one functionary from the (Bush era) Department of Education was clearly embarrassed that a public school could even receive such an honor, so much so that she refused to believe me when I called asking her for a quote.

    In short, No Child Left Behind was designed with failure in mind. Enforcement received all the attention.

    My children got a great education. They were instructed by competent, caring teachers, led by a staff that (almost) always put academic success at a high priority. The NCLB program even acknowledged that something positive was happening. But sustaining that success and learning from it were deemed unimportant. Good riddance to a terribly inept program.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site