Monday, September 3, 2012

NCLB Waiver: The Price is....Wrong!

by John Burns

On the game show the Price is Right, contestants try to guess how much items really cost. If one had to guess how much money the state receives from 'winning' Arne Duncan's NCLB Waiver, one would surely think it would be enough to not only save Oregon's public schools from the brink of bankruptcy but also give schools a reprieve from the demands of NCLB. Hardly.

Last winter, Governor Kitzhaber told Oregon schools, parents and the Legislature that we must approve Achievement Compacts to win a waiver from the NCLB penalties we are facing. Senate Bill 1581 was written to require Achievement Compacts for school districts and Oregon ‘won’ a conditional waiver.

I recently took a moment to research SB 1581 and found very useful an analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Office which stated “without the waiver the State would lose the federal No Child Left Behind Act funding currently estimated at $159 million.” So we have instituted Achievement Compacts which are MORE intrusive than NCLB ever was to save $159 million. That is only 5.5% of our 2012/13 State School Funding of $2,845,330,000.

It is not enough to justify Arne Duncan blackmailing states into these agreements.

I highlighted above that Oregon’s waiver is conditional. To keep the waiver Oregon will have to put in place teacher and administrator evaluations that MAY include other factors but MUST include test scores. I do not believe that will happen quickly or possibly at all making SB 1581 a misguided and expensive adventure.

John Burns is a Beaverton School District parent and served on the BSD Budget Committee.