300-page NCLB waiver increases state control?

January 13, 2015 6 Comments

Indiana’s  No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver which was renewed this past June is up for renewal again at the end of the school year. The zeal with which Indiana Department of Education officials sought the current waiver leaves little doubt that a strong effort will once again be made to retain it. However, an honest discussion is needed to consider if Hoosier students have been better off under the waiver, and whether or not the policies the waiver requires have strengthened Indiana schools.

The waiver hasn’t come cheaply, and whatever small reprieve may have been enjoyed by school administrators who are no longer held accountable under AYP, it came at a huge cost to students and tax payers with the adoption of Common Core standards.  The waiver was a trade-off; more state control over how we spend a small portion of federal funding, in exchange for more federal control over education policy. Yes, Indiana was given greater discretion over how we spend the set aside portion of Title 1 funds which amounts to half of 1% of the total education budget, but we had to relinquish control over our standards, state assessments, teacher evaluations, and school accountability measures to get it.

Some state officials claim that the waiver “frees” the state from federal intrusion, and the mandatory changes it required regarding  standards, assessments, etc. were made independently by the state without federal input. That argument is hard to reconcile against the 300 pages of requirements and conditions contained in the waiver application that Indiana submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, along with an additional 200 attached files, as proof that Indiana was meeting the federal parameters required by the waiver.

Unlike the renewal last year, this time it’s good for three years, which  places Indiana education policy under the parameters of the Obama Administration’s waiver until 2018 , well beyond his term. Those supporting the renewal of the waiver operate under the assumption that the waiver and NCLB are going to continue. But, what happens if  the newly aligned Congress passes legislation to repeal No Child Left Behind, and the reforms we have made no longer apply? Indiana has a decision to make:  Should we continue to build our education system around the parameters of a waiver which new legislation could void, possibly as early as this spring?

This is why state sovereignty is so important, especially as it pertains to the control over standards, assessments, accountability, and teacher evaluations; they are the underpinnings which drive our entire education system.  Students, teachers, and parents must be guaranteed consistency, not upheaval every time Congress or bureaucrats in the US Department of Education lift their pens.



Comments (6)

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  1. Dave Read says:

    Well said! State officials are just exchanging one set of handcuffs for another. When we hear state education officials say, “We would be doing what the Feds expect even without the waiver” that demonstrates a lack of leadership, understanding and vision for what actually produces a well rounded, educated citizenry prepared for life!

  2. leon dixon says:

    300 pages is a lot to read. I wonder if anyone has actually read it especially those on SBOE who, I thought, were tasked to pay particular attention to anti-family matters? What part of the Coleman Report and Coleman, in particular, are they unaware of? Moyihan’s Report was 1965, Coleman, 1968. Coleman was not talking about Black families and that whole government created fiasco, he was talking about your kids being taken from their parents. That is still the game plan.

  3. bobmontgomery says:

    If no child is left behind, then no child will get very far. The R’s in Congress are very proud of having stopped earmarks. So we don’t need them in Indiana do we? That means earmarks for education as well as pork projects.
    As for CC, the reason they claim new standards were needed is because the education reforms of the 70’s are what put us on a downward spiral, allowing other countries to eventually pass us. So the standards we need to go back to are not the pre-CC Standards, but the pre- 1970’s standards. And what we still have are the CC standards and anybody who tells you we don’t is a liar. And anybody who tells you CC isn’t being taught is a liar and evil. I don’t believe in public employees going on strike, but if ever there were a time when it might be warranted, it is today by the teachers who know their students are not being taught to learn, but to be automatons.

    • leon dixon says:

      Good points but ISTA means loss of professional status and professional ideals. Many teachers are caught up and imprisoned in a bad system-administrators too, for that matter. I don’t recall the reforms of the 1970’s nor do I recall any standards (but there may have been). I do know the 2006 standards were and are good enough for government work. I suspect that had they been adopted nation wide we’d all be making real progress. Common Core advocates are not serious educators nor are their proponents. They are bought and paid for automatons (if I may borrow your word).

  4. Linda says:

    Erin –

    Have you located the extensions? I’ve been searching and have our Minnesota state waiver but have not located the extension. Thanks much!

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