The Arne Grinch Who Stole Christmas And Promised To Punish School-Ville

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US DOE Promises Funding Cuts To States Who Miss Participation Rates Two Years In A Row, Contact President Obama Now!

In a letter sent to all states in America, the United States Department of Education is pulling the lever towards federal funding cuts to states who have participation rates below 95% on state assessments two years in a row.

If a State with participation rates below 95% in the 2014−2015 school year fails to assess at least 95% of
its students on the statewide assessment in the 2015−2016 school year, ED will take one or more of the
following actions: (1) withhold Title I, Part A State administrative funds; (2) place the State’s Title I,
Part A grant on high-risk status and direct the State to use a portion of its Title I State administrative
funds to address low participation rates; or (3) withhold or redirect Title VI State assessment funds.

Yes, they are actually doing it.  I would go with option number 3 for Delaware.  We don’t want your stupid state assessment funds.  Go ahead.  I dare you to do this US DOE.  You are nothing but bullies, flexing your muscles in direct opposition to parental rights.  You are complete idiots if you think parents are going to take this lying down.  We challenge you.  Miss Ann Whalen, “delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education”.  Who gave you this authority?  The departing Arne Duncan or the incoming John King?  You still don’t get it, do you?  Schools cannot and should not be punished for parents exercising their God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights for their children when it comes to education.  Yes, all schools are required to make sure students participate in the test.  That means the schools can’t tell parents to opt out.  There is nothing in your insane, ridiculous, mind-boggling, hateful, punitive, and disrespectful law about parents exercising their rights.  You are twisting the knife in public education.  America is tired of your high-stakes assessments meant to punish schools and feed the wallets of corporate education reformers.  You have sold your soul to Wall Street. 

President Obama, you are a lame-duck.  Are you really going to have this be your education legacy?  Choosing business over children?  Cutting funds to schools where standardized testing doesn’t mean a damn thing to students whose lives have not improved under your presidency?  You disrespect parents.  You disrespect minorities.  You disrespect students with disabilities.  You disrespect teachers.  You disrespect schools.  You disrespect state rights.  You disrespect those in low-income or poverty.  I disrespect you if this is really the route you want to take.  If this is something you are okay with, if this is something you allow, you should be prepared to take the heat for it.  I invite every single parent of a child in public school in America to call you now, until this mandate is GONE, and voice their vehement opposition to this totalitarian rule from the federal government on education.  Call today.  The phone number for the White House is 202-456-1111.  You can email President Obama here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact and tweet him at @WhiteHouse or you can comment on every single article the White House puts out here: https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse/timelineTell the President your child is not his child.  Your child is not the property of the United States Department of Education.  Tell him your child is YOUR CHILD.  And you know what is best for them in determining YOUR CHILD’S education. 

To read the US DOE’s ultimate bully letter to the states, please see below:

Red Clay Superintendent Merv Daugherty Hints Governor Jack Markell May Not Veto Parent Opt-Out Bill

Will Delaware Governor Jack Markell veto House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation in Delaware that passed the House of Representatives and Senate in the First State in June?  According to Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty, indications are pointing to him not vetoing the controversial bill.  At their board meeting on Wednesday July 8th, Daugherty said the district is preparing for the legislation to take place later in the summer.  He indicated the district may have to notify parents in both September and in the Winter so they are given the options at the start of the school year and prior to the next round of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Weeks later, and Markell has not even asked for House Bill 50 to be brought to his desk.  Once he does that, if he fails to do anything with the legislation, it passes into law in ten days.  The opt-out legislation would stop Delaware schools and the Delaware Department of Education from bullying and intimidating parents when they decide to opt their child out of the high-stakes assessment.  As well, it would stop the opt-out students from counting in the school’s accountability rating and would not count against teachers in their evaluations.  Sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko, a Democrat, and State Senator Dave Lawson, a Republican, the legislation had a five month battle in many areas of Delaware: schools, Legislative Hall, the DOE, the Governor’s office, homes, and on social and print media.

In New York, New Jersey, and the state of Washington, many opt-outs went far below the 95% Federal threshold for test participation.  Threats of federal funding cuts have been just that: empty threats.  Despite all the posturing and bullying by both the US DOE and the Delaware DOE, no school has received funding cuts due to opt-out by parents.  While the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores haven’t been released yet in Delaware, it looks like high school juniors may have gone below the 95% mark.

About That Federal Funding Regarding Opt Out…. **UPDATED**

As parents continue to opt their children out of state-mandated standardized testing across the country, school districts, state departments, and others continue to issue threats of Federal funding cuts if schools don’t reach the 95% minimum for student participation.  But are these threats validated?  Has this been done before?

Yesterday, Valerie Strauss with the Washington Post asked this very same question, in  this article.

“The Department of Education’s statements appear deliberately misleading. They confound the law’s requirement that states administer a testing system that covers all children with the non-existent requirement that all children take the test. They imply that a state that allows opting out is at risk of violating NCLB, even though seven states (Utah, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and California) already have such provisions and none has lost a penny in federal funding due to these provisions.”

In New Jersey, over 40 schools did not meet the 95% mark last year and not a single one of them received one penny of Federal funding cuts from the US DOE.  In fact, last week, the House in the New Jersey General Assembly unanimously passed a bill allowing for parent opt out.  It still has to face the New Jersey Senate, but there is a lot of support for this bill from parents.

A couple weeks ago, Diane Ravitch wrote a bizarre story about US DOE Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  Apparently, he took a wrong turn on his way to deliver a speech at a school in Chicago, and when he found himself surrounded by parents, he denied ever talking about funding cuts.  The Chicago School District recently tried to have only 10% of students take the state standardized test, but they backed down when the Feds stated funding cuts would be issued if they tried this.  But this conversation took a strange turn:

“But isn’t the mandate being dictated by the federal government? Isn’t that what’s behind the threat to withhold $1 billion in funding that forced Chicago’s hand?

“No. You’re wrong. . . . You’re making stuff up. You don’t have your facts straight,” Duncan said.”

The threat of Federal funding cuts comes from the requirements of No Child Left Behind.  The Obama administration continually avoid the edicts of NCLB by having states sign waivers to the most stringent requirements.  Yes, schools are required to administer standardized testing based on the state standards, however, there is no law requiring students to actually take the test.

In Delaware, Federal funding amounts to about 6.6% of the funding for education.  Considering the Delaware Department of Education spends an exorbitant amount of money on needless programs and salaries, as well as a foolish charter school provision where they are allowed to keep transportation surplus funds after they reach their yearly amount, I’m sure Delaware can make up for these funds.

According to FairTest.org, in the below document, the reason the 95% mark was established in the first place was because schools were the ones not having special needs students test in order to bump up their scores.  It was never intended as a means to discourage opt out.

As more students in Delaware will begin taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment after Spring Break, schools will see more parents opting their children out.  As a result, we will see the school districts issue the veiled Federal funding cut threat.  But this game of cat and mouse is just that: a veiled and empty threat.

UPDATED, 4/3/15, 2:24pm: Education Week is now jumping on this story, probably in response to the Washington Post article from yesterday.

“Although states have yet to sound any opt-out alarms at the Education Department, state officials in Colorado want to add language to the state’s waiver from provisions of the NCLB law through the waiver-renewal process that would ensure that opt-outs don’t count against a school’s 95 percent participation threshold.”

Education Week continued to write about the Federal cuts schools could face in response to States asking the US DOE for guidance on these issues:

“According to those letters, the tools at the Education Department’s disposal include (in escalating order of severity):

  • A formal request that a state comply;
  • Increased department monitoring of a state;
  • Conditions on federal Title I aid provided for low-income students, or on the state’s waiver from provisions of the NCLB law for the 42 states that have one.
  • Placing a state on “high-risk” status, although the letters did not give more specifics;
  • Issuing a cease-and-desist order;
  • Entering into a compliance agreement with a state;
  • Withholding all or a portion of a state’s Title I administrative funds;
  • Suspending, and then withholding, all or a portion of a state’s Title I grant.”

There is one part of Education Week though that tends to make me doubt the veracity of all their stories, or who their biases may lean towards, and that’s this:

“Coverage of the implementation of college and career-ready standards is supported in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.”