Supplement Not Supplant Is Dead

The U.S. Department of Education yesterday killed their draft rule for Title I funding in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) known as “Supplement, Not Supplant.” It’s not an issue that we’ve written a whole lot on here, but it highlighted one way that the Secretary of Education could gut any flexibility members of Congress thought they had when they passed ESSA.

If you were not familiar with the rule it basically said that  in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as recently revised by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that federal funds must supplement, and may not supplant, state and local funds. Civil rights activists and department bureaucrats were concerned that federal funding would replace state and local funding to the detriment of lower-income schools.

“For too long, the students who need the most have gotten the least,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr said in a released statement announcing the proposed rule last Summer. “The inequities in state and local funding that we see between schools within districts are inconsistent not only with the words ‘supplement-not-supplant’ but with the civil rights history of that provision and with the changes Congress made to the law last year. No single measure will erase generations of resource inequities, and there is much more work to do across states and districts to address additional resource inequities, but this is a concrete step forward to help level the playing field and ensure compliance with the law.”

Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday also expressed concern with this proposed rule and promised to enforce ESSA in way that “Congress has intended.”

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) issued a joint statement praising the decision.

This is a significant victory for students, parents, and school leaders across the country. The department’s regulatory scheme would have violated the law and unleashed serious harm on some of our nation’s poorest schools and communities. While this is encouraging news, we should never have faced the threat of this misguided regulatory proposal. We look forward to working closely with the new administration to ensure recent K-12 education reforms are implemented in a manner that respects the letter and intent of the law.

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) also responded in a released statement:

I am glad the Education Department has listened to Congress and has chosen not to move forward with its proposed ‘supplement-not-supplant’ regulation. This proposal would have dictated from Washington how states and school districts should spend nearly all state and local tax dollars on schools in order to receive federal Title I dollars — which are only about 3 percent of total national spending on K-12 schools. A regulation like this is not authorized by law; in fact, it is specifically prohibited by law.

I look forward to working with the incoming Trump administration and Betsy DeVos, once confirmed, so we can ensure that the Every Student Succeeds Act is implemented as Congress wrote it, restoring control of public schools to states like Tennessee and to local communities.

So this is good news, but it would be even better news if Congress scraped ESSA altogether and sunset the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Here Is The Flexibility ESSA Gave California

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The California Department of Education wanted to pilot a new assessment that they said was better aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Apparently Washington, DC knows best and they told the state no.

EdSource reports:

The U.S. Department of Education has rejected California’s bid to begin phasing in tests this spring based on new science standards, in lieu of current tests based on standards in place since 1998.

In a Sept. 30 letter to state education leaders, a senior official in the U.S. Department of Education said California has not demonstrated that piloting the new tests would advance student achievement or do a better job reporting on school performance.

Earlier this year, California submitted a request for a federal waiver from administering the current tests in science and instead wanted permission to administer a pilot version of a new test aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, with a longer field test the following year.

“The state has not demonstrated that the requested waiver would advance student achievement or maintain or improve transparency in reporting to parents and the public on student achievement and school performance, including the achievement of subgroups of students,” Ann Whalen, senior advisor to U.S. Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., wrote in the letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Michael Kirst, the president of the State Board of Education.

The department has given the state 60 days to resubmit its waiver request if it meets certain conditions outlined in the letter.

I’m not a fan of the Next Generation Science Standards so I think creating a new assessment aligned to them is a horrible idea. It is, however, the state’s horrible idea to implement and be held accountable. The Every Student Succeeds Act we were told was going to end “the national school board,” empower states, and give states greater flexibility.

So if ESSA was supposed to do all of this for California, what legal basis does Secretary King have to do this? Congress gave it to him when they determined the U.S. Secretary of Education has to approve the plan.

You can’t say we didn’t warn you.

U.S. Department of Education Wants to Punish High Opt-Out Schools

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In New York in 2016 more than one in five students opted-out taking the Common Core assessment given by the state, they have the highest rate of opt-outs in the country. If the Secretary of Education John King and the U.S. Department of Education has their way high opt-out schools, those who don’t hit 95% of their students participating, will be punished.

Lohud.com reports:

A looming deadline for public comment on proposed changes to federal education policy, including consequences to participation in opting out of testing, has sparked outcry from parents, legislators and education groups.

The new regulations, when adopted, would explain how states and school districts must implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, a federal law passed by Congress in December 2015 to replace the No Child Left Behind Law. The new law was aimed at relaxing federal control of education policy and giving more flexibility to the states.

The proposed amendment to ESSA, drafted by U.S. Secretary of Education John King, the former New York education commissioner, would punish schools with high opt-out rates by having school ratings lowered and require improvement strategies.

…In the drafted amendment, states would be required to take action against schools that fail to have at least 95 percent of participation from students by assigning them “the lowest performance level” on a state rating system, according to the proposal. In addition, those schools will require “targeted support” to improve the rating and increase the test participation numbers.

So much for giving control back to the states. As we said before the Every Student Succeeds Act erodes state control, it doesn’t increase it. This is just one example. Some lawmakers said that states could include opt-out provision in their state plans. Well obviously that isn’t the case unless these regulations are shot down.

Lamar Alexander Whines About What We Knew Would Happen With ESSA

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Photo credit: AMSF2011

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Photo credit: AMSF2011 (CC-By-2.0)

Senate Education Chair Lamar Alexander is shocked that the U.S. Department of Education is doing what he says he believed the Every Student Succeeds Act prevents the Department from doing – regulating things that Congress said shouldn’t be regulated.

Politico‘s Morning Education reported yesterday:

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander is not pleased with the Education Department’s early work on implementing the new Every Student Succeeds Act — specifically a draft regulation [http://1.usa.gov/1TEYe4j] on Title I funding — and he let Education Secretary John B. King Jr. know loud and clear Tuesday. Alexander said he thinks the department is effectively regulating things that Congress prohibited the department from doing. And he was clear he plans to do everything he can to stop King from overstepping his bounds as the regulating process moves forward.

Alexander later indicated he hopes using his bully pulpit will be enough. “I’m hopeful that the secretary will go back and talk with his lawyers and say, ‘This senator and his staff are smarter than you think they are’,” Alexander said. But he sees three levers to use if King doesn’t change course: One way is using the Congressional Review Act, an obscure, rarely used law that allows Congress to overturn a final rule issued by an administration. Second, he could use the appropriations process to defund implementation efforts. And third, states could spur action: “If for example, a state submits a plan that the department refuses to approve, the state can ask for a hearing or it can sue in court and say the law says something different,” Alexander said.

King told lawmakers he’s trying to set guardrails for states as the law intended, not add new requirements. Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray didn’t side with Alexander; she reminded the committee that “while we were writing this law, we were deliberate on granting the department the authority to regulate on the law and hold schools and states accountable for education.”

Here’s video of Alexander’s remarks on the subject:

Bureaucrats gotta bureaucrat…. Seriously, this is why we were concerned about state’s having to submit their state assessment plans for the Secretary of Education to approve. Specifically it erodes state power over education though the law’s language specifying computer-adaptive assessments. Whose to say that the Department won’t tell a state that it can’t use say ACT for 11th graders, but has to use a computer-adaptive test?

Also, with standards the law now says that a state’s standards must align with higher-education requirements and with “challenging standards a.k.a. “career and technical education standards.”

No Child Left Behind never dictated that. What kind of “guardrails” will Secretary King establish for that?

If Alexander truly wanted to rid our nation of a “national school board” instead of pushing for this monstrosity of a bill they should have let the No Child Left Behind sunset instead of trying to fix it. The only way to reduce federal control is to specifically take power away from the federal government to regulate. They didn’t do that with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Alexander was warned, and now he’s whining because the Department is doing exactly what we suspected they would do.

John King Confirmed as Secretary of Education

The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. John B. King, Jr. as Secretary of Education on a 49-40 vote. Here’s the role call vote below, courtesy of Michelle Malkin.

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I could not watch all of the debate, but I did catch U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) give his floor speech which was well done. I encourage you to take time to watch it.

Will The Senate Vote to Stop John King?

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Dr. John B. King, Jr., the acting U.S. Secretary of Education, is up for a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate later today. As most of our readers know King was a disaster as the New York State Commissioner of Education prior to being hired as an Assistant Secretary of Education. President Barack Obama then appointed King to replace Arne Duncan when he announced he was stepping down as Secretary of Education.

It doesn’t look promising unfortunately since his confirmation was passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on a 16 to 6 vote last Wednesday. U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Tim Scott (R-SC) voted against King’s nomination in committee.

Will Estrada, the director of federal relations with the Home School Legal Defense Association, explained in a video released late last week why King’s confirmation should be stopped.

In a nutshell as Commissioner of Education in New York he worked to suppress parent and activist voices from being heard by cancelling town halls when he realized they were not going to go his way. They later rescheduled town halls stacked with friendly voices. He supported Common Core, and oversaw the failed implementation of the standards and aligned assessments in his state. He also supported the Every Student Succeeds Act. Senators who supported that bill have the chance to redeem themselves by voting against his confirmation.

You can still contact your Senators today and tell them to vote no on King’s confirmation as Secretary of Education, the vote is expected to take place at 5:30p (ET).

Do States Really Need Federal Guidance for Testing?

Last week acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. released a video to announce that the U.S. Department of Education was going to issue guidance for states and school districts on what can be deemed “an unnecessary test.”

Is he talking to education professionals or kindergarteners?

From a press release the U.S. Department of Education issued:

“High-quality assessments give parents, educators and students useful information about whether students are developing the critical thinking and problem solving skills they need to succeed in life,” said King. “But there has to be a balance, and despite good intentions, there are too many places around the country where the balance still isn’t quite right. We hope this guidance will help restore that balance and give back some of the critical learning time that students need to be successful.”

The guidance outlines how federal dollars may be used to help reduce testing in schools, while still ensuring that educators and parents have the information they need on students’ progress to improve learning. The guidance shines a light on innovative work already happening across the country and provides examples of how states and districts can use their federal funding to explore new strategies for ensuring the use of high-quality, useful and well-constructed assessments, and the elimination of redundant and burdensome assessments.

Whew! I’m not sure what we would have done without this.  Apparently we would never be able to figure this out without guidance from the Feds.

John B. King is Not An Improvement Over Arne Duncan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan resigned last week as I’m sure you are all aware. John B. King, current assistant secretary of education and former commissioner of education in New York, was appointed as “Acting Secretary” (avoiding a confirmation vote for now).

King was a staunch defender of Common Core and high-stakes testing during his time in New York.  He was essentially tone deaf over concerns expressed by New York teachers and parents.  When he realized town hall meeting with parents were not going to be all rainbows and unicorns he closed them down.

King is not an improvement as a replacement. He may be even worse.

Here are some of his “greatest” hits.

Capital New York has a nice summary of that period of time.

The fall of 2013 was arguably the most difficult period of King’s three-and-a-half year tenure as education commissioner in New York, where, as the state’s first black and first Latino schools chief, he led the implementation of the Common Core standards, controversial state exams aligned to the more difficult material, and teacher performance evaluations based partially on the tests.

After the Oct. 10, 2013, assembly devolved into chaos, King canceled (and subsequently rescheduled under pressure) the rest of his planned statewide tour, accusing “special interests” of co-opting the raucous crowd.

Teachers’ unions, parent groups and some state lawmakers called for King’s resignation. The state’s powerful teachers’ union later held a no-confidence vote to make official their feelings about him. A parent-led and union-boosted testing boycott movement began under his leadership, and subsequently exploded.

Oh yay.

New York Education Commissioner King Moving On to USDED

John-B.-KingNew York Education Commissioner John King says he’s leaving his post for a position with the Obama administration.

King, 39, will become the No. 2 official at the U.S. Department of Education, where he will work closely with Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“I’m humbled and honored to have the chance to work with President Obama and Secretary Duncan,” King said in a statement. “Their extraordinary leadership is helping students all across the nation get better prepared for college and careers. I’m excited to become part of that team.”

Only among Common Core advocates would one receive a promotion after dodging parents angry about Common Core by canceling town hall meetings, experience a disastrous implementation of Common Core that has led to bipartisan opposition, and has seen test scores plummet.

Failure reaps rewards evidently.  This could be good news for New York and bad news for the rest of us.

Where is Governor Scott Walker’s Leadership on Common Core?

Scott_Walker_by_Gage_SkidmoreIf there was a “race to the drop” of Common Core among Republican Governors, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would be trailing his Indiana and South Carolina counterparts.  Last Wednesday during his State of the State address said nothing about the Common Core State Standards instead he focused on his school to work initiative.

He did address the Common Core at the State Education Convention.  “Like every other parent across the state, I want our education system to help our kids excel and reach their full potential,” Governor Walker said. “Federal standards in education may be raising the bar in some states, but in Wisconsin, we can do better.  The education leaders here in our state are most qualified to assess the best way to take the standards we set for students to the next level.”

Governor Walker then noted he working with members of the Legislature in both chambers to craft legislation creating a process that would develop Wisconsin-based model academic standards.  Specifically this legislation would create a commission to review the the Common Core, and Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Evers will chair it.  Yes, the same guy who threatened a lawsuit if the Wisconsin Legislature rejected the Common Core.  Evers also said that Wisconsin is not giving up the Common Core, and that the Common Core will still be the basis for standardized tests that Wisconsin students will take.  At most the Commission would recommend new additional standards that school districts can adopt.

Probably within the 15% allowed by Wisconsin’s agreement with the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  A minor tweaking.  I know in Iowa we’re tired of the doublespeak we’re hearing from our Governor.  Wisconsin should tire of the weak leadership they are receiving from Walker on this issue.

What happened to the bold leader Wisconsin saw on Act 10?  Exercise decisive leadership on budget reforms, but virtually do nothing when misguided education policy is being foisted on Wisconsin school children?  Unions are leading the way on this issue as we saw in New York.  Wisconsin should pay attention, New York is further ahead in their implementation of the Common Core and it has been a disaster.

Saturday the New York State Union of Teachers Board passed a “no confidence” resolution of New York State Education Commissioner John King, Jr.  In it they also withdrew their support of the Common Core State Standards until major course corrections are undertaken to address its failed implementation.  They also support a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing.

Wisconsin is proceeding full-steam ahead and it seems like the chairs of the Legislative Education Committees, State Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and State Representative Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake), lack the wherewithal to do anything beyond forming a meaningless commission.

Where is the bold leadership we have come to expect from Governor Scott Walker?  Will he and the Wisconsin Legislature fail Wisconsin kids because it’s an election year and they don’t want to rock the boat?

Disappointing.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 3.0)