Education & Workforce Committee Slam Secretary John King Over Homeschool Remarks

The fun never stops in Washington D.C.  After U.S. Secretary of Education John King said some rather stupid things about homeschooled students yesterday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee thought they should issue a press release on King’s comments.  I have to agree with them!

Education & the Workforce Committee Contact: Press Office
September 23, 2016 (202) 226-9440
Secretary Knows Best?

The Obama administration has always had a “we-know-best” mentality when it comes to K-12 education. The Department of Education has spent years unilaterally dictating education policy through pet projects and conditional waivers. Last year, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan boasted that the department’s lawyers are “much smarter than many of the folks” working in the United States Congress. And in recent months, the department has put forward new rules that reflect the same old top-down approach to the nation’s classrooms.

Now, Secretary John King is sounding off on parents who decide to homeschool their children. According to Politico Pro:

[Secretary King said] that he’s concerned that homeschooled students aren’t “getting the range of options that are good for all kids” …

[King] said he worries that “students who are homeschooled are not getting kind of the rapid instructional experience they would get in school”—unless parents are “very intentional about it.”

We wonder if the secretary intentionally left out some key facts about the nation’s homeschool students:

  • According to the most recent data, nearly 1.8 million students are homeschooled each year, an increase of over 17 percent since 2007.
  • Homeschool students excel on reading and math tests, scoring in the 89th percentile and 84th percentile, respectively.
  • Students who are homeschooled typically score higher than public school students on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT.
  • As reported by U.S. News and World Report, a study of students at one doctoral university showed homeschooled students “graduated college at a higher rate than their peers—66.7 percent compared to 57.5 percent—and earned higher grade point averages along the way.”

But the secretary knows best, right? Not quite. At a time when the Obama administration was busy setting national education policy, there has been little improvement in student achievement and graduation rates:

  • Only 36 percent of 8th graders are reading at grade level today—a number that remains virtually unchanged since 2009.
  • Only 26 percent of 12th graders are proficient in math—a startling statistic that also has not changed since 2009.
  • One out of every five students is dropping out of school—again, a number that’s largely unchanged since the president took office in 2009.

We all agree that every child deserves to have an excellent education. That’s the reason Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act. The law protects homeschools from federal interference and empowers parents to do what they believe is best for their children. Why? Because that’s what is best for America’s students—whether the secretary knows it or not.

# # #

Kline Calls John King’s Regulations A Convoluted Scheme

The Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee just issued a press release on the regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  He blasted U.S. Secretary of Education John King and said he needs to be stopped!  We can all agree on this one Rep. Kline!  But here’s the deal: these proposed regulations have been out since the end of May.  It is now the last day of August.  Coming out with press releases is good, but you need to have the entire Congress get together for an immediate hearing and strip King of his power.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Press Office
August 31, 2016 (202) 226-9440
Kline Statement on Education Department’s Unprecedented Regulatory Proposal
“The Department of Education is threatening to unilaterally impose a multi-billion dollar regulatory tax on our nation’s schools.”

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, issued the following statement today regarding the Department of Education’s unprecedented and unlawful “supplement, not supplant” regulatory proposal:The Department of Education is threatening to unilaterally impose a multi-billion dollar regulatory tax on our nation’s schools. This punitive policy will unleash havoc on schools and their students at a time when education leaders should be focused on helping children succeed in the classroom. America’s poorest neighborhoods will be hit the hardest as communities are forced to relocate teachers, raise taxes, or both. Any supposed “flexibility” is really a limited set of bad choices dictated by the secretary of education. This is not at all what Congress intended, and those who helped enact this law cannot honestly believe differently.

What the secretary is proposing is unprecedented and unlawful. The only way to make this right is to scrap this convoluted regulatory scheme immediately. Members of Congress came together to pass bipartisan reforms that are designed to help every child receive an excellent education, and we will not allow this administration to undermine these reforms with its own extreme, partisan agenda.

# # #

John King Is Violating Intent Of ESSA By Approving Illegal Flexibility Waivers For Delaware Through 2019

I was wondering why the Delaware Department of Education went to all the trouble of submitting an ESEA flexibility waiver for a dubious standard called the state’s “speaking and listening standards” last March.  ESEA effectively ended on July 31st this year.  Now we know why.  Because it allowed the Delaware DOE to continue the same damaging and disturbing accountability practices for not just this school year, but through the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

This waiver was very odd to begin with.  Yes, there is speaking and listening standards.  It is part of Delaware’s Common Core State Standards.  But to submit an ESEA Flex Waiver for this is ludicrous.  But it doesn’t end there.  The Delaware DOE was not forthright and honest with the process of applying for this waiver.  As part of state code, Delaware is required to have an advisory committee to approve these waivers.  This was the DESS Advisory Committee.  For this waiver, DESS did not meet to approve it.  In fact, as per an email from Susan Haberstroh at the Delaware DOE, the group is not even active at this point.

HaberstrohDESSQuestion

DESS is, however, required under Delaware state code to review the very same things this ESEA flexibility waiver is meant to address:

Title14DESS

Under whose authority did Haberstroh decide DESS did not have to meet to review this flexibility waiver?  This flexibility waiver is illegal in many ways.  There is no state regulation that gives the Delaware School Success Framework any legal enforceability.  Regulation 103, which covers these accountability standards, was not updated last year.  The U.S. DOE has no authority to approve or disapprove Delaware law.  By relying on the United State Dept. of Education to decide on Delaware law, the Delaware DOE is seriously overstepping the will and intent of the Delaware Constitution.

To make things more complicated, U.S. Secretary John King is abusing his authority under the Every Student Succeeds Act by approving any accountability waivers up through 2019.  The Delaware DOE is cherry-picking what they can and can’t do with ESSA, just like John King is.  For John King, when he does this stuff, he gets hauled into congressional hearings.  When the Delaware DOE does this stuff, it gets mentioned on here.  There is no accountability method for the Delaware DOE to answer for their actions.  Someone needs to get the DOE into a public hearing to explain how they can do certain things and not others.  Because the way they interpret the law and the way it must be interpreted are two different things.  Events are progressing rapidly where the Delaware DOE is openly and flagrantly violating state law.  This can not continue and I urge our General Assembly to take immediate and definitive action against our out of control Dept. of Education.

As for U.S. Secretary of Education John King, I have already taken some action on his abuse of power.  I contacted Rep. John Kline (MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) addressing the abuse of power John King is exhibiting by approving this waiver.  As well, I submitted the following to Senator Alexander:

Good morning Senator Alexander,

I am trying to reach you in regards to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Back in March, the Delaware Department of Education submitted a flexibility waiver under ESEA to the United States Department of Education.  This was for a waiver of “speaking and listening standards” as part of our state assessment.  Our Dept. of Education stated this was a “limited waiver” and bypassed parts of our state law for how these things are approved in our state.  While I recognize you have no authority over Delaware state code, I do know you do have authority in regards to the U.S. Dept. of Education and have the ability to call out John King over abuse of power.

On August 5th, 2016, the Delaware DOE received an approval letter from Anne Whelan, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, action on Secretary King’s behalf, to approve our ESEA flexibility waiver. The letter, which can be found on the Delaware Dept. of Education website under “Accountability”, and then “ESSA”, seems to give the U.S. DOE authority to grant flexibility waivers with the same accountability standards under ESEA up through June 30th, 2019.  As I am interpreting the Every Student Succeeds Act, this type of authority was explicitly stripped from the U.S. Secretary of Education.  But John King is openly and publicly defying this federal mandate by continuing the same damaging practices from No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top.

The letter states:

“After reviewing Delaware’s request, I am pleased to grant, pursuant to my authority under section 8401 (b) of the ESEA, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a limited waiver of section 1111 (b)(3)(C)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), for school year (SY) 2016-2017 and of section 1111 (b)(2)(B)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, for SYs 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 so that the state’s assessment system, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment for grades 3-8 and the SAT for high school, need not measure the State’s speaking and listening standards at this time.

This waiver is granted to Delaware on the condition that it will implement the following assurances:

It will continue to meet for each year of the waiver all other requirements in the ESEA, as amended by NCLB or the ESSA, as applicable, for State assessment systems and the implementing regulations with respect to the State’s academic content and achievement standards and assessments, including reporting student achievement and school performance, disaggregated by subgroups, to parents and the public.”

In addition, by granting this waiver to Delaware, it would allow Delaware to continue accountability rules that have no regulatory approval in Delaware as required by Delaware state code. Delaware has not passed a final Accountability Framework for our public schools because there is no regulation supporting this updated matrix.  As well, the Delaware School Success Framework punishes schools for participation rates below 95% on state assessments.  While ESSA allows states to decide policies and procedures with regard to a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment, Delaware has not done so in any official capacity.  The U.S. DOE is approving this illegal practice in our state which is against the spirit and intent of ESSA.  No state regulations have been approved or are even in the pipeline for approval, and the U.S. DOE is in violation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

I implore you, as well as your other Congressional leaders, to hold Secretary King accountable for his very open defiance against the intent of Congress.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.

With warm regards,

Kevin Ohlandt

Dover, DE

Below is the letter sent from Anne Whalen to Secretary Godowsky on August 5th:

John King Gets Grilled By John Kline Over ESSA Regulations

This morning, United States Secretary of Education John King was once again asked to testify in a hearing before the US House Education and the Workforce Committee.  Chairman John Kline issued a press release:

Kline Statement on Hearing with Secretary of Education King

Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, released the following statement after Secretary of Education John King concluded his testimony addressing implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act:

The Every Student Succeeds Act is based on the principle that state and local leaders can run their K-12 schools better than Washington bureaucrats. The law represents the best opportunity we’ve had in decades to provide every child in every school an excellent education. We will not allow the administration to destroy that opportunity by substituting its will for the will of Congress and for the will of our state and local education leaders. This hearing is an important opportunity to hold the administration accountable to those leaders and their students. We appreciate hearing from Secretary King, but in many ways he reinforced our concerns with the troubling direction the department is taking this new law. We will continue to use the tools at our disposal to ensure the letter and intent of the law are strictly followed. Our nation’s parents, teachers, and students deserve nothing less.

Kline also issued his opening statement in the hearing:

Kline Statement: Hearing on “Next Steps in K-12 Education: Examining Recent Efforts to Implement the Every Student Succeeds Act”

Welcome back, Secretary King, and thank you for joining us. When we last met, the process for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act was just getting underway. We had a healthy discussion about the bipartisan reforms Congress passed and the president signed into law. Those reforms are designed to restore state and local control over K-12 schools.That’s not just my own personal view. It’s the view held by governors, state lawmakers, teachers, parents, principals, and superintendents who recently wrote that, “[The Every Student Succeeds Act] is clear: Education decision-making now rests with states and districts, and the federal role is to support and inform those decisions.” It’s also the view of most honest observers. As the Wall Street Journal editorialized, the law represents the “largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.”

That’s not just my own personal view. It’s the view held by governors, state lawmakers, teachers, parents, principals, and superintendents who recently wrote that, “[The Every Student Succeeds Act] is clear: Education decision-making now rests with states and districts, and the federal role is to support and inform those decisions.” It’s also the view of most honest observers. As the Wall Street Journal editorialized, the law represents the “largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.”The reason for this hearing and our continued oversight is to ensure the letter and intent of the law are followed. A critical part of our effort is holding your agency accountable, Mr. Secretary, for the steps that are taken to implement the law. When you were with us in February, you said, “You can trust that we will abide by the letter of the law as we move forward …”

That is a strong statement, and it is one of several commitments you’ve made that the department would act responsibly. But actions speak louder than words. In recent months, we have seen troubling signs of the department pulling the country in a different direction than the one Congress provided in the law.

The first troubling sign is the rulemaking process itself. There are a number of concerns about the integrity of the negotiated rulemaking committee, including the makeup of the panel, the lack of rural representation, and the accuracy of statements made by department staff. The point of the negotiated rulemaking process is to build consensus among those directly affected by the law, yet it seems the department decided to stack the deck to achieve its own preferred outcomes.

The second troubling sign surrounds the long-standing policy that federal funds are to supplement, not supplant, state and local resources. Prior to the Every Student Succeeds Act, this rule was applied differently depending on how many low-income students a school served; some schools faced more onerous requirements than others. Last year, Congress decided the rule would be enforced equally across all schools. Now, school districts must simply show that funds are distributed fairly without prescribing a specific approach or outcome. The law explicitly prohibits the secretary from interfering, yet that is precisely what your proposal would do. 

What the department is proposing would be both illegal and harmful to students and communities. It would impose a significant financial burden on states and force countless public school districts to change how they hire and pay their teachers. This regulatory effort is trying to achieve an end Congress deliberately rejected and that the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service warns goes beyond “a plain language reading of the statute.” No doubt you have good intentions, Mr. Secretary, but you do not have the legal authority to do this. I strongly urge you to abandon this flawed scheme.

The third troubling sign is the department’s accountability proposal. Let me note that there are policies in this proposal we are pleased to see, such as how states set long-term goals and measure interim progress. But in a number of ways, we also see the department’s bad habit for making decisions that must be left to states.

This is especially troubling given the law’s explicit prohibitions against federal interference, including how states compare school performance and identify schools for support. For years, states grappled with a rigid accountability system imposed by Washington. The Every Student Succeeds Act turns the page on that failed approach and restores these decisions back to state and local leaders. I urge you, Mr. Secretary, to adopt a final proposal that fully reflects the letter and spirit of the law. 

We are raising these concerns because it’s vitally important for the laws written by Congress to be faithfully executed. And just as importantly, we are raising these concerns because we want to ensure every child has the best chance to receive a quality education. We cannot go back to the days when the federal government dictated national education policy—it didn’t work then and won’t work now.

If the department refuses to follow the letter and intent of the law, you will prevent state leaders, like Dr. Pruitt from Kentucky, from doing what’s right for their school districts. You will deny superintendents, like Dr. Schuler of Arlington Heights, Illinois, the ability to manage schools in a way that meets the needs of their local communities. And you will make it harder for teachers, like Cassie Harrelson from Aurora, Colorado, to serve the best interests of the students in their classrooms.

Later, we will hear from these individuals because they represent the people we want to empower. Every child in every school deserves an excellent education, and the only way to achieve that goal is to restore state and local control. That’s what the Every Student Succeeds Act is intended to do, and we will use every tool at our disposal to ensure the letter and intent of the law are followed.

Kline, Alexandar & Rokita Try To Get Lemonade Out Of A Turnip With John King

Well that didn’t take long.  United States Secretary of Education John King has been the official Secretary of Education for not even three months and he is already under the Education and the Workforce Committee’s microscope.  The United States Senate should have never confirmed him in the first place.  Why are we dealing with this so soon?  Because John King thinks he is invulnerable based on the arrogant and cocky mindset of those in corporate education reform who think they are perfect and everyone else is scum.  Remember after 9/11, when President Bush said you can’t negotiate with terrorists?  It is the same with corporate education reformers.  You can’t try to get lemonade out of a turnip.  You will only get a headache.

The Every Student Succeeds Act regulation process has begun, but like most of us, we have no clue what is really going on with it.  I have the same problem in Delaware when our “stakeholders” convene on some task force, working group, or committee.  There is no true representation.  It is who they want on these groups.  They want an outcome so they will stack the deck to make sure they get it.  Nothing but smoke and mirrors here folks!  So why are Kline, Alexander, and Rokita having a hissy fit because King did what is in his very nature to do?  Even if you give a snake legs,  it’s still a snake.  You can’t change the character of a person by giving them a title.  If anything, that character becomes a part of the title.

Read the letter below.  King has until June 7th to respond.  Will he?  Even if he does will it change anything?  This is exactly what I predicted would happen.  For some inexplicable reason, the Every Student Succeeds Act was rushed through the US House and Senate with a quick signature by Barack Obama.  It was, as explained in the letter, heavily lobbied… probably too much.  This bill wasn’t about students, it was about corporations.  There is very little in this act that actually helps students.  It may look that way, but far too many states invested the past seven years on Common Core and the state assessments.  They aren’t going to change course now.  Not during an election year.  Kline should have known better, but no, he acted with haste to get King nominated.  What about this clown’s history ever said that was a good idea?

And from the official press release on this:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2016 CONTACT: Press Office
(202) 226-9440

Congressional Leaders Raise Concerns with Integrity of ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN)—along with Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN)—today wrote to the Department of Education to express “serious concerns about the integrity” of the department’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) negotiated rulemaking process. Among other concerns, the letter raises questions related to the makeup of the rulemaking panel, a lack of rural and student representation in the process, and the accuracy of statements made by the department’s negotiators.

First established in 1990, the negotiated rulemaking process was created to bring federal agencies and interested stakeholders together to develop certain new regulations through a framework designed to promote consensus among diverse groups. The Every Student Succeeds Act requires the department to use this process, at a minimum, for regulations on standards, assessments, and the requirement that federal funds supplement, rather than supplant, state and local funds.

To “evaluate the Department’s compliance with negotiated rulemaking requirements and the integrity of the ESSA negotiated rulemaking process,” the chairmen’s letter requests information related to a number of questions, including:

•How the department met a requirement that individuals on the negotiated panel shall include “representation from all geographic regions of the United States, in such numbers as will provide equitable balance between representatives of parents and students and representatives of educators and education officials.”

•Whether the department’s actions in naming panel participants biased the panel’s deliberations.

•Protocols and/or criteria used to determine when a secretary or other high ranking department official will speak to a panel or otherwise participate in a panel’s work, as Secretary King did during the rulemaking process.

•Steps taken to ensure statements made by the department’s negotiators accurately reflect the statute and their role in the negotiated rulemaking process.

•The participation of three outside experts and the process for choosing those experts.

•How the department determined which provisions related to assessments would be included in the process.

Additionally, the letter requests “all documents and communications related to the department’s determination of its legal authority for all regulatory language proposed to the negotiated rulemaking panel.” The chairmen are requesting a response by June 7, 2016.

John King Blames Remedial Classes On His Failure As NY Commissioner Of Education

I don’t think anyone intended for science or social studies or art or music to get less attention when No Child Left Behind was adopted. -John King

When asked by New York Rep. Elise Stefanic at last week’s Every Student Succeeds Act hearing what lessons he learned and what mistakes were made during his time as Commissioner of Education of New York State, John King blamed remedial classes and circumvented giving a direct answer to Rep. Stefanic.  He refused to take any personal blame for what many in New York see as a very flawed Commissioner.  For someone who wants “Educational Excellence”, or in other words, more accountability for “failing schools” based on very flawed high-stakes testing scores, King is unable to be accountable to himself or his own actions.  If the Common Core standards were as great as King believes, it would not take this long to implement them.  King didn’t even address Rep. Stefanik’s comments about some schools in her district having 80% opt-out rates.

Federal Role In Opt-Out Will Be The Same, John King Ignores The Intent Of ESSA

The United States Department of Education will continue to exert authority in regards to parents opting their child out of state assessments through regulations.

Congressman Jared Polis from Colorado asked Acting Secretary of Education John King, during the “Next Steps for K-12 Education: Upholding the Letter and Intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act” hearing, about opt-out and participation rates.

By stating “we all know states have a historically checkered record of making sure all vulnerable sub-groups are served,”  Polis referenced Oklahoma’s State Superintendent as saying “While a state is  welcome to pass bad laws as relating to opt-outs, we have Section 4-C-E of ESSA that says states must assess 95% of students.  That means all means all.”

Polis quoted US DOE as responding “While it is up to states to determine the consequences of failing to assess students, the Department will provide oversight and enforcement to ensure that states are assessing all students, regardless of what the states laws are and how opt-outs occur.”  He then asked John King what steps he plans to take to make sure “all means all” with participation rates.

King responded: “I take that responsibility quite seriously to ensure that all means all.  This implementation of the law advances equity in excellence.  I think we have an opportunity in the regulations and guidance that we help to provide guardrails that will ensure that states use their new flexibility around accountability and interventions to advance equity.  For example, as we begin the negotiated rule-making process around assessments, the kind of questions we’ve been getting have been questions around the participation of students with disabilities, the participation of English learners, the implementation of computer adaptive assessment, in a way that protects equity.  And so as we move forward, that negotiated rule-making, a central question will be how do we ensure that regulations we do on assessment protect civil rights of students.  And we’ll take a similar approach to the work on the on our negotiated rule-making for supplemented non-supplant and we continue to review, comment, and feedback from stakeholders to define other areas where we need to move forward with regs and guidance.”

Polis went on…. “And while the consequences of meeting the requirements are left up to state law, do you feel that you have sufficient leverage to ensure that those consequences are meaningful and not meaningless?”

King replied: “We do, and I will say it will require vigilance from the part of the Department, especially as states implement their first round of interventions and identify whether or not those interventions are helping to achieve progress, particularly for at-risk sub-groups.  We’re gonna have to be vigilant to ensure that states continue to move forward to shift strategy, if a strategy is not working for the highest-need students.”

Define vigilance John King!  This violates parental rights at a massive scale.  Opt-out is an individual parent choice for their child, not a school’s responsibility to make sure it does or does not happen.  It is our right that we choose to exercise.  This law gives parents, teachers, and schools absolutely no protection from the iron fist of the federal government.  We are back to square one…

US Rep. John Kline’s Statement On ESSA Hearings From Today

The Every Student Succeeds Act got it’s own hearing today in Washington D.C.  Congressman and Chairman of the Education & the Workforce Committee John Kline oversaw the hearing.  Acting Secretary John King answered questions about the legislation signed by President Obama in December.  King will also face a US Senate confirmation hearing later this afternoon.  Odds are pretty good the Senate will confirm King as the official US Secretary of Education.  And many of us know why…

Kline Statement: Hearing on “Next Steps for K-12 Education: Upholding the Letter and Intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act”

 
 

Replacing No Child Left Behind was a significant achievement that was desperately needed and long overdue. The law represented the largest expansion of federal control over K-12 schools, and it was based on the flawed premise that Washington knows best what students need in the classroom. The federal government imposed rigid rules and punitive actions on states and schools in areas vital to a child’s education, like which teachers to hire and fire, how to gauge school performance, and how to fix underperforming schools.It didn’t take long before state and local leaders were raising concerns that this top-down approach wouldn’t work. Their concerns were affirmed year after year as we experienced little – if any – improvement in graduation rates, proficiency in reading and math, and the achievement gap separating poor and minority students from their peers. Frustration among parents and teachers went up, while student achievement remained flat. Despite the good intentions behind the law, millions of children were left behind.

To make matters worse, the administration spent years pushing a convoluted waiver scheme, which doubled-down on the false hope that Washington could fix the problems in our schools. States and schools were subjected to even more federal requirements in areas like standards and teacher evaluations. They were forced to choose between onerous requirements prescribed in federal law and onerous requirements prescribed by the secretary of education.

If we learned anything throughout process to replace No Child Left Behind, it’s that the American people are tired of Washington micromanaging their classrooms. They are desperate for a different approach to K-12 education, one that will significantly reduce the federal role and restore state and local control. That is precisely the approach taken by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Under the new law, authority over accountability, teacher quality, and school improvement is restored to state and local leaders. The law also brings new transparency and accountability to the department’s rulemaking process, ends the era of federally-mandated high-stakes testing, repeals dozens of ineffective programs, and sets the department on the path to becoming smaller, not bigger. Furthermore, due to the administration’s actions in recent years and the public outcry that ensued, the Every Student Succeeds Act includes unprecedented restrictions on the authority of the secretary of education, ending the days when one individual imposed his or her own agenda on our classrooms.   

The Wall Street Journal described the new law as the “largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.” A letter written by a coalition of organizations representing governors, state lawmakers, teachers, parents, principals, and superintendents says, “[The Every Student Succeeds Act] is clear: Education decision-making now rests with states and districts, and the federal role is to support and inform those decisions.” They also urge the Department of Education to “honor congressional intent,” which brings us to the heart of today’s hearing.

Despite our success replacing No Child Left Behind, the real work to improve K-12 education is just beginning. The focus now shifts to leaders in state capitals and local communities who will use the tools and authority in the new law to build a better education for their children. And if they are going to succeed, they will need a Department of Education that behaves like a partner – not dictator.

I’ve described countless times the shortfalls of No Child Left Behind. While it may seem unnecessary at a hearing on the future of K-12 education, we need to remember where we have been as we look to where we want to go. Congress did not want to repeat the mistakes of the past, and we certainly did not want a Department of Education that would continue to substitute its will for the will of Congress and the American people. Quite the opposite, we wanted new policies that would empower parents, teachers, and state and local education leaders. Congress promised to reduce the federal role and restore local control, and we intend to keep our promise.

That’s why we are here today. We want to learn what actions the department intends to take to implement the law and to help ensure the department acts in a manner that strictly adheres to the letter and intent of the law. Dr. King, this committee stands ready to assist you in that effort. The reforms you are now implementing were the result of bipartisan consensus, and we will remain actively engaged as the department moves forward. There is a lot of work to do, especially in every state and school district across the country. The department must get this right so every child can receive the excellent education they deserve. 

This is EXACTLY what Wall Street, hedge fund managers, members of the National Governor’s Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and many legislators want.  The devil, of course, is in the details…

You can watch the video of the hearing as well:

 

US DOE Responds To My Email To Acting Secretary Of Education John King

A few weeks ago I sent an email to Acting US Secretary of Education John King.  This was actually in response to something State Rep. Earl Jaques did.  You can see the email and article about what Earl did here.  This was the response I got back from the United States Department of Education.  I really have to wonder if John King ever saw it.  And how much of my original email did they even address?

Mr. Kevin Ohlandt

Kevino3670@yahoo.com

Dear Mr. Ohlandt:

This letter is to acknowledge your January 28, 2016 correspondence addressed to Acting Secretary John King, U. S. Department of Education (Department), concerning educational reform for students with disabilities. Your correspondence was forwarded to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, within the Department, for reply.

OSEP is dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts. OSEP administers the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  IDEA authorizes formula grants to states, and discretionary grants to institutions of higher education and other nonprofit organizations to support research, demonstrations, technical assistance and dissemination, technology and personnel development and parent-training and information centers.  These programs are intended to ensure that the rights of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their parents are protected.

Thank you for sharing your reviews about a “parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.” The Department is always interested in hearing about issues that impact services to all children, including children with disabilities.  Your continued interest in the provision of educational services to children with disabilities is appreciated.  If this Office can be of assistance in the future, please feel free to contact Christine Pilgrim, Part B State Lead for Delaware, at (202) 245-7773.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Newton

Customer Services Specialist

Office of Special Education Programs

“Acting” Secretary Of Education John King Nominated By President Obama To Become The Real Deal

MarkellKing

According to the Times Union in Albany, NY, President Obama is expected to nominate John King to be the official successor to Arne Duncan as the US Secretary of Education.  Had Obama done this back in October when Duncan resigned, many felt King would not have been confirmed by the Republican majority US Senate.

What changed?  The Every Student Succeeds Act.  Deals were made, things were thrown in at the last minute, and votes changed.  Such is the way of politics in Washington D.C.  It happens in every state.  What does this mean to those who were horrified at the mention of John King and Secretary of Education?  It really depends on how much power King is allowed to have.  The ESSA strictly forbids the Secretary of Education from forcing Common Core down state throats as well as issuing waivers to states that are essentially “comply or die” memos.  On the flip side, a lot of what was written in the legislation merely brings controversial aspects of the waivers into law.  The law is a matter of interpretation in some cases, and in the next six months we will see mass attempts at trying to figure it all out.  ESSA, on the surface, gives states more control.  But which states will exert their own individual power, and which will play along to get along?

Most Presidents, when newly elected, tend to pick their own Cabinet members.  The key to King’s reign will be if Hillary Clinton manages to become President.  I could easily picture a scenario where King is allowed to stay on as Secretary under a President Clinton.  If Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump win, no way!  As for Delaware, it looks like King and Governor Markell have already bonded so we can look forward to more capitulation from Delaware and the US Department of Education…

Redlining The DOE Press Release On Acting Secretary John King’s Visit To Delaware

In God we trust, all others show data.

KingMarkell

Putting a new spin on the words appearing on US Currency, State Rep. Debra Heffernan’s words above shot the smoke and mirrors involving testing, as quoted by Newsworks/WHYY.  My response to Rep. Heffernan: What in God’s name are you even talking about?

On the cusp of the biggest blizzard to hit Delaware in Governor Markell’s 2nd term as Governor, Acting US Secretary of Education John King came to Wilmington yesterday and the biggest topic was tests.  More specifically, standardized tests.  What came out of this visit highlights this insanity inflicted on our children.  Below is the press release with my comments on this in red.   After that, a quote from a State Representative showcases the growing frustration parents, teachers, and legislators are having with this environment.

ACTING U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTS STATE  WORK IN VISIT

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King praised Delaware as an “inspiring” leader in education during a visit to Wilmington today as part of his Opportunity Across America Tour.

“Inspiring”!  Now that’s a funny word.  I would say complete surrender to everything former Secretary Arne Duncan wanted.  Governor Markell bowed at his feet and left Delaware wide open for corporate invasion in every single one of our schools. 

Following a visit to Kuumba Academy Charter School, King joined Gov. Jack Markell and Delaware Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky for a round table discussion with other education and state leaders about improving assessments and ensuring access to high quality education for all students.

And who were all of these education and state leaders?  In various pictures I see a lot of the usual suspects: Indian River Superintendent Susan Bunting, State Rep. Debra Heffernan, State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Board Member Pat Heffernan, US Senator Tom Carper, US Representative John Carney, State Board Executive Director Donna Johnson, Markell’s Education Policy Advisor Lindsay O’Mara, State Senator Greg Lavelle, State Senator David Sokola, State Senator Margaret Rose-Henry and rookie State Representative David Bentz.  With the exception of Bentz, who I haven’t seen enough of to accurately judge him, many of these folks are Markell cheerleaders when it comes to education.  Where was DSEA and Delaware PTA?  We can’t have the people who actually know more about what goes on with these tests than most of these people.  We can’t have them asking King the really important questions.  Instead, we get this “roundtable” hand-picked by Governor Markell.

District and state leaders talked to King about the ongoing work related to a statewide assessment inventory undertaken by the Delaware Department of Education and individual districts. A report from a state task force on the topic is due later this month.

I thought it wasn’t due until June 30th.  Are they now rushing the report before the Smarter Balanced Assessment window opens in March?  And they are having a meeting on February 22nd.  Little confused here DOE!

The leaders discussed how teachers, families, and policymakers need objective measures to determine whether children are learning – before it’s too late to help them.

And I thought I was Dr. Doom… “before it’s too late to help them”…  I think if we get rid of the assessments that will help them and keep more of the garbage like Smarter Balanced than we are throwing them to the wolves.

“Every child matters and we need assessments to measure student academic growth so that none of our kids fall through the cracks,” said Markell, who called for the assessment inventory last year. “But we also know that what determines whether our children get the education they deserve is how much high-quality instructional time they get – access to great teachers, curriculum, and the courses that will prepare them for college and careers.

Far too many of our kids are falling through the cracks because of this testing obsession of yours Governor Markell.  One more year.  That’s what I keep telling myself.  One…more…year… 

“So we need to be smart about our approach, ensuring that we are not giving redundant, ineffective, or unnecessary tests so we can maximize time for our teachers to teach and our students to learn,” Markell said.

In other words, time for more teaching to the Smarter Balanced Assessment!  Play it up for the press Jack, play it up…

King, who noted his department soon will announce federal dollars to support assessment reviews and improvements, praised Delaware for its work. He emphasized the value assessments provide to educators and policymakers in understanding student learning. But he said leaders have a responsibility to ensure assessments are high quality, transparent, take up the right amount of time, and are one of multiple measures used to assess performance.

Of course they will.  It isn’t corporate education reform without federal money pouring into it.  People didn’t buy his beliefs in New York, but the gullible of Delaware are probably hailing him as a hero…

The district leaders discussed how beneficial the inventory process was for them at the local level. With the support of state grants, they reviewed their local and state assessments.

Things are always beneficial when you get free money!  Where did that money go?  Were employees paid more for this review? 

“We don’t want to be conducting assessments that are telling us the same things as other assessments,” Indian River Superintendent Susan Bunting said. “We want to make sure we are getting the most information out of the time we are investing.”

The key word in Bunting’s statement is “investing”.  It always comes back to the money.  She can talk about time, but time is money.  And Bunting is all about the Smarter Balanced Assesssment… and Rodel… and Vision Coalition… and Student Success 2025… 

Colonial School District Superintendent Dusty Blakey said his district found through the review that it could reduce testing time for all students ranging from a one hour reduction for kindergartners to more than 13 hours saved for eighth graders.

This is truly frightening in many aspects, but I’ll let a State Rep’s quote take care of this one…see below… 

“We can put that time back into informed instruction because those assessments remaining are really aligned to instruction,” he said.

Shouldn’t all assessments be aligned to instruction Dusty?  Are you saying the Smarter Balanced Assessment has no benefit for instruction?  What an absolute shock!  Assessments should be based on the instruction already given and should measure what the students retain.  Common Core and Smarter Balanced are a whole different animal.  Common Core forces teachers to teach outside of their comfort zone, all for the glory of the state assessment.  That’s not school, that’s brainwashing and manipulation.

State Rep. John Kowalko issued a statement based on this press release:

Colonial School District Superintendent Dusty Blakey said his district found through the review that it could reduce testing time for all students ranging from a one hour reduction for Kindergartners to more than 13 hours saved for eighth graders”. Please note a one hour “REDUCTION” in testing time for Kindergartners. For God’s sake how many hours of testing have they been torturing these children with and how many will they continue to torture them with for absolutely no purpose?  Additionally a REDUCTION of 13 hours for eighth graders leaving ???? hours of useless testing. All parties from the federal DOE down through Governor Markell and Delaware’s DOE and others should be ashamed of themselves, stop this insanity and apologize to all of the children and parents in Delaware.

Representative John Kowalko

I can’t picture that apology coming anytime soon Rep. Kowalko!

Nichole Dhobo with The Hechinger Report also wrote about King’s visit to Delaware in an excellent article.  My only beef with it was the continued fallacy that House Bill 50 “allowed” parents to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  But it showcased King’s absolute lie about district tests compared to federal.

Local tests required by individual states, districts and teachers are more time-consuming, King said, than federally mandated tests that some parents around the country have rallied to “opt out” of taking.

When you put them all together, they are still less time than Smarter Balanced.  Because so much instruction is geared towards Smarter Balanced, as well as the interim assessments, and then the test itself.  We all know why King wants them gone… because they are more important than “Smarter” as the hipsters at the DOE call it.  And if we actually have tests that do help students, we can’t have that.  Look through the mirage Delaware.  See the reality.  As the education reformers gasp their last rigorous breaths, far too many fall for the lies.  Don’t do it…

The Guy The US Senate Will Never Confirm (aka John King) Is Visiting Delaware On Friday

John_B__King,_Jr_2015

That didn’t take long.  The former New York City superintendent of schools, who is now the Acting US Secretary of Education is coming to Wilmington on Friday.  Have any Secretaries of Education ever bothered to check out our schools outside Wilmington?  Anyways, John King is coming to Kuumba Academy this Friday, and afterwards he is having a chat with civil rights leaders.  Probably about opt-out and how we can fix the low-income, poverty-stricken schools with more corporate education reform, personalized learning, less assessments that actually help, and more Smarter Balanced type tests to keep the hedge funders nice and rich.  Throw in some competency-based education for good measure…  I’m sure the Governor will be in attendance as well.

And once again, only “credentialed” journalists are allowed.  For God’s sake, keep the damn bloggers away!

cantbloghere

John King is Acting Secretary because the US Senate will never confirm the guy.  Talk to New Yorkers who are against education reform and they will tell you stories all night long!  Of course he is going to Kuumba Academy in the Community Education Building.  Maybe he would have gone to Delaware Met had they not shut down three days early.  That would have been an eye-opener!

Here is the official press release from Alison May down at the DOE:

ACTING U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION KING TO VISIT DELAWARE FRIDAY

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King will visit Wilmington Friday as part of his Opportunity Across America tour to discuss the state’s efforts to improve and reduce testing.

King will visit a classroom at Kuumba Academy Charter School prior to joining two roundtable discussions at the Community Education Building in Wilmington.  The roundtables will include an assessment discussion with district and state leaders and legislators as well as a second meeting with civil rights advocates.

Credentialed journalists are invited to join King for the following:

9:20 a.m.                                           Classroom visit (Kuumba Academy)

9:30 a.m.                                           Hour-long roundtable discussion about better assessments

10:40 a.m.                                         Press availability

10:55 a.m.                                         Hour-long roundtable discussion with civil rights advocates

Members of the media who would like to join the visit should RSVP to Alison.May@doe.k12.de.us by noon on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Badass Teachers Association: Rejoiced Over Arne Duncan & Horrified Over John King

The Badass Teachers Association, a group of over 70,000 teachers nationwide released a press statement on Arne Duncan’s resignation as the United States Secretary of Education and President Obama’s selection of former New York Commissioner John King as his replacement.  The BATs are NOT happy about this, and I don’t think anyone who cares about public education should be either…

BATs Respond to Duncan Leaving USDOE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 2, 2015
More information contact:
Marla Kilfoyle, General Manager BATs or Melissa Tomlinson, Asst. General Manager BATs
Contact.batmanager@gmail.com
The Badass Teachers Association at badassteacher.org
Today the White House confirmed that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would be stepping down. The Badass Teachers Association, an education activist organization with over 70,000 supporters nationwide, celebrate this decision. Sadly, at the same time we rejoice the resignation of a man who has done more destruction to public education than any other sitting Secretary, we are horrified that President Obama has chosen to replace him with John King. John King is the former Commissioner of Education in New York.
John King’s tenure in New York was one of controversy and with an established agenda of dismantling public education by using corporate education reform tactics. King was run out of New York in 2014 because of a staggering test opt out rate, because he ignored and dismissed parents at education forums, and because he refused to fix an education system that he himself destroyed. The state teachers union, NYSUT, had a unanimous vote of no confidence in him prior to his departure.
“While we are glad to see Arne Duncan leave his post as one of the most destructive people to hold the title of Secretary of Education, we remain concerned that he will be replaced with yet another non-educator that will continue the Corporate Education Agenda. What we need now more than ever, is a compassionate, knowledgable, and experienced educator at the helm of this country’s highest education post.” – Gus Morales, Massachusetts BAT and Public Education Teacher 9 years
“John King did more destruction to the New York State education system than any sitting commissioner I have known in my tenure as an educator in New York State. He dismissed the parents, teachers, and students of New York State by calling us “special interest groups.” The fact that he has been elevated to the U.S. Secretary of Education is beyond appalling.” Marla Kilfoyle, New York BAT and Public Education Teacher in New York for 29 years.
John King taught for three years in a “no-excuses” charter chain that had a high suspension rate. His agenda in New York State was to attempt to destroy the public’s confidence in public education. He grossly miscalculated the parents, educators and students of New York State. We anticipate he will continue his failed New York agenda while head of the United States Department of Education.

# #  #