The United States Department of Education issued non-regulatory guidance on Assessment Review on September 25th, 2015. This was a couple weeks before President Obama and Soon-To-Be-Former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s public announcement for states to limit testing and to have no more than 2% of classroom going towards assessments. Many have predicted this is just another attempt to get rid of district assessments that give clear and meaningful data for students, parents, and teachers. We don’t want our students actually figuring out how to improve quickly when we have all those great state assessments like Smarter Balanced and PARCC that will give us results after kids go onto the next grade, right?
The full document from the US DOE is non-regulatory guidance but considered a “significant guidance document”, whatever the hell that means… When the US DOE issues guidance that is non-regulatory, that means it has not been Congressionally approved by both Houses in the US Congress. Which is how the US DOE likes to operate, without legislative approval…
Guidance means a “suggested” way of doing things. “Regulatory” means you have to do it. The Delaware DOE doesn’t seem to know the difference between the two. There is a very fine distinction. This is the case with the Accountability Framework Working Group being told by Penny Schwinn at the DOE that participation rate penalties in the Delaware School Success Framework are “mandatory” and “non-negotiable”. This is a complete fabrication and distortion of the truth. But it appears the district superintendents and administrators on this group swallowed the lie, because they agreed to it.
But here is the important distinction between guidance and regulatory. The US DOE issued guidance on charter school enrollment preferences surrounding specific interest in their applications. They stated charter schools should only use this to benefit Title I, IDEA, low-income & minority students, and students with disabilities. As we all know, certain charters in our state completely ignore this and pick who they want for their schools. I don’t see the Delaware DOE rushing to enforce this “guidance”. If they had, there wouldn’t be a pending complaint in the Office of Civil Rights from the ACLU of Delaware and Delaware Community Legal Aid against the Delaware DOE and Red Clay Consolidated School District. But when it comes to parent opt-out, that guidance becomes “mandatory” and “non-negotiable”.
In the presentation below, the key pages are 4 and 16. It indicates a potential way of using opt-out or participation rate in accountability but nowhere does it say “You must do this or we won’t approve your waiver request.” They can threaten and bully all they want, but we all know how that turns out in the end.
To read the non-regulatory guidance concerning charter school enrollment preferences, please read below: