Sunday, February 5, 2012

NCLB Waiver: Consider the Hidden Costs

This article, "Race to the Top Leave Schools Behind," just came out after the last blog post. It expresses the hidden costs of Race to the Top parameters such as having to adopt and implement the Common Core State Standards and assessments a well as implement a new teacher evaluation system.

One Superintendent in this article is quoted as saying:

“No one did the math,” said Ken Mitchell, South Orangetown’s superintendent. “Race to the Top was fast-tracked, and there was no discussion about the costs.”

A school board member noted:

“I would gladly give back our $6,000,” said Karen Zevin, school board president for Croton-Harmon, whose district actually got $6,909. “Take it right now. Our costs will just keep increasing.”

Implementing new teacher evaluation system has proven to be a problem on many counts:

"The new evaluation system has proved to be one of the most divisive issues in the state. Districts are having difficulty working out the details through collective bargaining, as required by state law....From the start, there was little talk about the costs facing school districts trying to create a complex new evaluation system on the fly, said Jere Hochman, superintendent of Bedford schools, who serves on a state task force that tried to figure out how to make the whole thing work. The new evaluations must include extensive observations of teachers in classrooms, which requires training, preparation, written critiques, follow-up plans and more. Districts also must develop an appeals process for teachers who disapprove of their ratings — which could lead to high legal costs."

Hopefully Oregon will think about these issues before jumping forward on their NCLB waiver plan. Oregon has little room for financial error as our classrooms are already being short changed in these trying economic times. We must demand an analysis and report on the potential costs of the waiver plan. It may not be worth going for right now.

Unfortunately, the federal government has the state over a barrel as the 100 percent target is coming up in 2014 and states are scrambling to bypass this with the waiver so they aren't labeled failing. As mentioned in yesterday's post, some states are saying no to the waivers, but they still need to figure out something by 2014.

A lot can happen in two years, and Oregon should take the time to problem solve it without rushing to sign on the dotted line.

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