Ed Trust: Hold the applause on No Child waivers until we see impact on students

The Education Trust’s Amy Wilkins, vice president for government affairs and communications, issued a cautionary statement on the No Child Left Behind waivers awarded to 10 states today, including Georgia.

(Later on today, Ed Trust plans to release a deeper analysis of the waiver agreements following the release of more state-by-state materials by the U.S. Department of Education.)

Here is her statement:

Today’s waiver approvals establish a middle ground. In this new approach, the federal government takes responsibility for ensuring that states set meaningful goals for all groups of students — particularly low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities and English language learners, all of whom are too often shortchanged by state and local education policy. At the same time, the waivers give these 10 states the flexibility and responsibility to determine the kinds of strategies and interventions their schools and districts need to enable all groups of students to meet their goals.

But the East Room of the White House is a long way from the classrooms of our country. So we all need to hold our applause until we see what these waivers yield for our students, particularly our must vulnerable.

The states that have been granted waivers now have to deliver on their promises by challenging their schools and, simultaneously, providing the supports they’ll need to meet the challenge. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education must stand firm on its promise to vigilantly enforce these agreements.

Today is the beginning, not the end of a new chapter in American education. How it ends will have much more to do with the actions of the adults involved — from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the kindergarten teachers in Duluth — than with the abilities of our nation’s students, who will soar if given the opportunity.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

90 comments Add your comment

Applause from Good Mom

February 9th, 2012
1:32 pm

A beautiful statement “Today is the beginning, not the end of a new chapter in American education. How it ends will have much more to do with the actions of the adults involved — from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the kindergarten teachers in Duluth — than with the abilities of our nation’s students, who will soar if given the opportunity.”

Not once did she call students “trash.” The same cannot be said from some of the teachers on this blog. Chilren are not trash and they sill if given the opportunity and the SUPPORT they deserve.

Very well said, indeed.
GM

Old Physics Teacher

February 9th, 2012
2:01 pm

“…Actions of all of the adults involved…” The key phrase in the entire article. Somewhere there is an old Chinese martial arts monk shaking his/her head. He/she is saying, “Not every cup is equal. All cups can be filled. Not all cups hold the same maximum amount. Expecting all cups to hold the same amount means that the larger cups go unfilled.” Sigh, let the whipping of teachers now start.

Attentive Parent

February 9th, 2012
2:21 pm

Maureen,

You might want to add that Amy’s boss, Katie Haycock, was part of the panel judging the waivers.

EdTrust’s activity here of being judge and then publicist is a bit odd.

They are certainly earning all that Gates funding they get.

Make policy. Judge policy. Publicize policy. See that it is implemented with fidelity.

Jerry Eads

February 9th, 2012
2:30 pm

@Physics, that’s gorgeous. ‘Tis the problem with our “standards” fixation: As I’ve noted before, standards are fine for fitting car doors to fenders; one size fits all doesn’t work so well for people. @Mom, stick to reality. There’s not a teacher here that I’ve read who used the term “trash” in speaking of kids. There ARE huge variations in student capacity, and teachers have the responsibility, as Physics notes, to fill each cup to the best of their ability (in spite of the efforts of our the people who end up in leadership and policymaking positions). But there are indeed also huge variations in student motivation and parental support that affect a school’s success with a child. Bashing all teachers, as you and so many others seem to wish to do – to blame all outcomes on the person in front of the classroom – fails to recognize that there are variations and complexity in everything related to the successful continuation of this society. Yes, there is variation in teacher capability. That is also true of kids, parents, principals, superintendents, boards of education, legislators, and governors. It’s very much past time we stopped pointing fingers and started figuring out how to get the job done sanely rather than via the random silver bullet approaches (e.g., charters or AYP) shown even before implementation to be miserably ineffective or – worse – destructive.

Jerry Eads

February 9th, 2012
2:37 pm

Oh – on topic: Enormous effort by each state went into applying for these waivers, much of it due to the fed employees actually reviewing the work (I’d bet my ouija board that Duncan’s never read a single word of any of them), who may well have had little clue what they were doing (or knew what they wanted). It does indeed remain to be seen whether these “waiver” plans actually temper the slide to oblivion produced by NCLB.

To Jerry from Good Mom

February 9th, 2012
2:53 pm

YOu said “@Mom, stick to reality. There’s not a teacher here that I’ve read who used the term “trash” in speaking of kids. ”

Then, you don’t pay close attention. A teacher on this blog did indeed call students “trash” and two called students “dead weight.”

Yes, it’s hard to imagine but that is a reality.

John from Little Five Points

February 9th, 2012
2:58 pm

I find it hard to believe that most Georgia shools could do a worse job than they are already doing… About the only effect of NCLB in Atlanta schools was creating a atmosphere where cheating by teachers was a norm. Like a Senator once said, every man has a price. For Atlanta teachers, it wasn’t much.

Maureen Downey

February 9th, 2012
3:01 pm

@attentive, For full disclosure:

Education Trust has two representatives (Katie Haycock and Daria Hall) serving on the panel. If you include previous Ed Trust-er Ross Weiner (now head of the Aspen Institute), more than 10 percent of the peer review panel is stocked with Ed Trust reps and alums.

http://ascd.typepad.com/blog/2011/11/nclb-waivers-are-no-hall-pass.html

Scott

February 9th, 2012
3:12 pm

@Mom

Few pay close attention to what you say anymore. If any teacher called students trash, I didn’t see it either.

I did see the comments about “dead weight” and I understand what they were talking about. Some students will not put forth any effort, no matter how patiently you try to motivate them. These types of students do not deserve infinite chances to learn. Those students should be left behind, so that the teacher’s time and attention can be give to those willing to learn.

Any student willing to try deserves the chance to learn. We need another path or program for those who are not willing to cooperate.

Parent Teacher

February 9th, 2012
3:23 pm

Very well said Scott.

We can’t forsake the many while chasing the several.

Attentive Parent

February 9th, 2012
3:27 pm

Thank you maureen.

And Aspen is becoming quite active itself again. Good to know about that connection. Thanks.

Scott

February 9th, 2012
3:29 pm

“Those students should be left behind, so that the teacher’s time and attention can be given to those willing to learn.”

Corrected the verb, many apologies.

Many years in hell....

February 9th, 2012
3:40 pm

Scott, you are exactly right. As a teacher, it is exhausting dealing the majority of my time on “the one” who would rather disrupt classes that engauge in them. We used to have places for such bored and unwilling clients…..they were called vocational schools. But wait! Before anyone comes at me, calling me names…vocational schools should be a necesity in any school district. Most were done away with under NCLB, because everyone needs to be proficient in Math and Science (readings a given, everyon does need it). Well, I’m horrible in Math, rarely ever use it….changing oil in my car? I use that twice a year. Cooking? I use that every day! Not every kid will be good at school, but at least give them all a chance at getting a normal job to support a normal family in a normal city in a normal state. Too much to ask?

carlosgvv

February 9th, 2012
4:12 pm

Georgia has been “left behind” for many years now.

Ron F.

February 9th, 2012
4:28 pm

“YOu said “@Mom, stick to reality. There’s not a teacher here that I’ve read who used the term “trash” in speaking of kids. ”

Then, you don’t pay close attention. A teacher on this blog did indeed call students “trash” and two called students “dead weight.”

That’s a total of THREE…out of how many who post on here? I’ll agree completely with you that those three need to be fired, but don’t judge us all by the actions of the few.

As to the topic, I’m not sure an unpiloted, untested evaluation system is going to give any better, fairer view of teacher effectiveness. It is, at least, based on factors besides standardized test scores, so we’ll see.

To many Years...from Good ma

February 9th, 2012
4:30 pm

You write “We used to have places for such bored and unwilling clients…..they were called vocational schools.”

I don’t understand your thought process. Why do you think vocational schools will be good places to put bad students? If students are “bad” on the “college track” they won’t be any good at the vocational track either.

I got my oil changed at a Jiffy Lube. After driving less than one mile, my car started smoking and i pulled over to discover that there was no oil in the car. They took the oil out and didn’t replace the oil cap so the new oil leaked out, a careless mistake.

Your attitude about vocational schools is telling. Vocational schools aren’t for “bad” students. We need smart people building our homes, designing our plumbing and diagnosing and repairing our cars.

GM

To Ron F from Good Ma

February 9th, 2012
4:34 pm

YOu write “I’ll agree completely with you that those three need to be fired, (Good! I’m glad. Thanks!)

but don’t judge us all by the actions of the few.” (I don’t. I often praise teachers on this blog such as Mary Elizabeth and the two teachers in my own life who helped me become a successful adult.)
(Good! I’m glad. Thanks!)

As to the topic, I’m not sure an unpiloted, untested evaluation system is going to give any better, fairer view of teacher effectiveness. (I’m not sure either but the part that is most important to me as a parent and as a taxpayer is that it measures what gets done. It holds schools accountable.)

It is, at least, based on factors besides standardized test scores, so we’ll see. (Yes, I agree).

You see? I just agreed with 100% of everything you said (and I genuinely mean it.)

Sincerely (without sarcasm or vitriole)
Good Mom

Ole (SKEPTICAL) Guy

February 9th, 2012
4:56 pm

Excellent words…now all that remains is to translate the words into REAL…SUBSTANTIVE ACTIONS. Could this possibly mean that the teacher corps will, eventually, be relieved of all NCLB-related paperwork? What will they ever do with all the free time? I guess the only realistic answer will lie in further-reduced salarys and more time off so that they might have more time to pursue those advanced degrees.

TEACHERS, BE WARY…IF YOU DARE!

Halftrack

February 9th, 2012
5:00 pm

Obummer is starting a bad precedent. If he gets by with this what other exceptions will he make and to whom? Laws should be corrected Constitutionally by Congress and not by so called “dictatorship” grab power policies. Does our Congressman ever know when they are being snookered by the Pres?

Brandy

February 9th, 2012
5:16 pm

My concern is this waiver’s affect on special education here in Georgia. One of the few positive effects of NCLB, has been special education’s ability to access the same textbooks, materials, and resources that regular education uses. Special education teachers still struggle to access materials and opportunities for their students, but it is a hundred times better than it was before NCLB.

Maureen, could you possibly do a breakdown that explains exactly what Georgia has promised to do in order to get (and keep) this waiver? It is downright impossible to find a breakdown that spells it out in black and white.

GeeMac

February 9th, 2012
5:38 pm

Brandy – Take A Look posted information about the indicators on an earlier thread.

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/02/09/georgia-liberated-from-no-childs-accountability-measures/?cp=1#comment-179934

Additionally, the poster explained that Georgia has proposed to administer numerous formative and summative assessments, including beginning of year, midyear, and end of year standardized tests, as well as end-of-year performance based assessments in English Language Arts and Math.

GeeMac

February 9th, 2012
5:45 pm

I have some serious concerns about the middle and high school indicators, which include things like percentage of students taking foreign language, arts, and career classes in middle school. Our tiny district offers PE and Band in middle school. That’s it. No art, drama, chorus. No computer skills, agriculture technology, family and consumer science, health occupations or foreign language. Our system simply does not have the funds to offer these courses, so we are already behind.

Ron F.

February 9th, 2012
5:46 pm

“As I’ve noted before, standards are fine for fitting car doors to fenders; one size fits all doesn’t work so well for people.”

Love it!!!

I’m going to print that, frame it, and mount it on the wall of my classroom. Any bets on how long it’ll last before someone makes me take it down?

Ron F.

February 9th, 2012
5:48 pm

GeeMac: in my system, we’ve already been asked how we can offer more career courses without any money. I want to see how that’ll happen!

GeeMac

February 9th, 2012
6:02 pm

Ron F. – I’m sure we will be asked to do the same. We barely held on to band this past year and had to give up JROTC. We built in time this past year for middle schoolers to meet every other week for 30 minutes to do some exploratories, voluntarily staffed by us teachers of course, in an effort to expose them to music, design, landscaping, publishing, etc.

Like I said before...

February 9th, 2012
6:20 pm

Gee Mac…now that is a shame. What is it now the average teacher spends over $1k out of pocket each year to keep things going in their classroom? We invest so little on the front end with our kids, time, money, modeling etc. Then we get up in arms when they are not productive citizens on the back end.

HS Math Teacher

February 9th, 2012
7:33 pm

NCLB – LOL

AYP – OMG

100% Proficiency in Math & Lang. Arts by 2014 – WTF

TW

February 9th, 2012
7:50 pm

Watching the right beg for relief from Obama says it all.

Ron F.

February 9th, 2012
8:07 pm

Good Mom: thanks for the explanation!! I may not always agree with what you say, but I respect your passion. Involved, persistent parents are what we need in order to make the substantive changes that will actually work. Trust me, there are many of us out there trying to remain committed and positive about making it all work.

Ron F.

February 9th, 2012
8:12 pm

Gee Mac: one thing you can always say is: “at least I’m not in APS.” That sometimes keeps me going when it gets tough!

To Ron

February 9th, 2012
8:19 pm

No this is funny ““at least I’m not in APS.”

hahahah….you can put that up on your wall for sure :) :
GM

To Ron F from Ma

February 9th, 2012
8:27 pm

You’re welcome :)

To HS Teacher from Gma

February 9th, 2012
8:32 pm

Although I disagree with everything you just said, I thought your comment was hilarious. Loved it. Thanks for the laugh:

NCLB – LOL

AYP – OMG

100% Proficiency in Math & Lang. Arts by 2014 – WTF

and to which I’ll add.

HS Teacher’s funny comments – priceless

Tw from Gma

February 9th, 2012
8:35 pm

Tw wrote “Watching the right beg for relief from Obama says it all.”

It is funny isn’t it? I mean if you took a step back and just looked at this politically.

NCLB, which most Republican teachers and parents detest, is a Republican policy created by George Bush, who Republicans love to love.

So now Republicans find themselves in an awkward position of begging a Democratic president to end a Republican policy. If the stakes weren’t so high and the kids weren’t involved, this might be funny enough to laugh at.

But it is just strange, isn’t it?

GMA

Mahopinion

February 9th, 2012
8:52 pm

@ ole Guy- hmmm, think they might put that free time in to teaching?

Na, me neither.

ScienceTeacher671

February 9th, 2012
9:26 pm

In reading what it’s going to take now – in particular, a certain percentage of students “exceeding”, my thought was that the GaDOE will now lower the cut scores to make it easier to “exceed.”

We’re already in that alternative universe where students who “meet expectations” on the CRCT are up to four years below grade level, and students who minimally “exceed expectations” are only barely at grade level.

On some of our EOCTs, students don’t even have to get 70% of the questions correct to “exceed expectations” (and I’m not counting the “field test” questions, just the ones that are graded.)

Old Physics Teacher

February 9th, 2012
9:45 pm

ScienceTeacher671

Ahhhhh… someone else who understands the normal distribution curve! Welcome brother/sister! We need to get a special handshake so we “subversives” can identify ourselves. Apparently there are few of us in the political arena and fewer still in the journalism field here in Lake Woebegon.

Old Physics Teacher

February 9th, 2012
9:47 pm

And apparently the site also accepts fake html codes too (deadpan) before my last sentence and (/deadpan) after. Tell me the AJC doesn’t understand humor.

Don't Tread

February 9th, 2012
10:08 pm

“How it ends will have much more to do with the actions of the adults involved…”

…like maybe the parents. How about a “No Child Left Behind” law for the baby mamas and daddies? (It won’t happen.)

DH

February 9th, 2012
10:10 pm

The “Crack-Referenced Criterion Test”, where the top score is 950, except for, well, when it isn’t.

ScienceTeacher671

February 9th, 2012
10:21 pm

Old Physics Teacher, don’t you love going to meetings and hearing about all the “data analysis” done by those who will readily tell you, “I’m NOT a ‘math person.’”?

Know the facts

February 9th, 2012
10:35 pm

NCLB was a bi-partisan effort between President Bush and Senator Kennedy. Unlike the current President, GWB actually knew how to reach across the aisle to get things done.

Really amazed

February 9th, 2012
10:47 pm

Does this mean no more CRCT??????

hryder

February 9th, 2012
11:19 pm

Vote out all incumbent elected office holders seeking reelection in November.

I'm a teacher

February 9th, 2012
11:54 pm

To some who love to bash teachers on this blog – you keep harping on holding schools accountable – they are held accountable the problem is that what they are being held accountable for constantly changes. Every year what we are told to teach something different of teach it a different way. Performing schools as well as non performing schools are constantly being bombarded with changed regulations and none of it is based on data. It is a situation of state and federal employees justifying their jobs.

For those who keep pointing to schools who do not meet AYP as failing schools – I taught in 2 different high schools where the only reason we did not meet AYP was student attendance – which is a parent responsibility but who got blamed for it…… the school.

I'm a teacher

February 9th, 2012
11:56 pm

sorry technical difficulties editing a sentence – it should read Every year what we are told to teach and how we are told to teach it differs.

crankee_yankee

February 10th, 2012
12:04 am

@To many years…
4:30

You need to do your homework before spouting off.
The “bad” students are usually the kinesthetic learners for whom the hands-on activities inherent in a vocational setting allow them to shine. No more “bad” student.
In the past, true comprehensive high schools offered a wide selection of courses from book-intensive to hands-on based. In the rush to send all students to ivy league institutions, comprehensive high schools have disappeared for all intents & purposes. A few large districts in Georgia have one or two true vocational schools but they are the exception.

The problem? Vocational courses are expensive. Georgia education has lost 1 billion dollars since Sonny Perdue implemented his “austerity cuts.” He did not value education, period. Remember when he cancelled 2 days of school so the peanut farmers would be assured of having sufficient diesel fuel?
I’m not holding my breath waiting for those cuts to be restored. We had our chance and were beginning to move up in the educational “rankings.” Too bad we voted a businessman into office. Oh, but we have a chance to do that again this fall! Oh joy…

Another opinion

February 10th, 2012
12:23 am

I am glad that Georgia got a break from the NCLB but I wish the powers up above would realize that not every kid should go to college. The new mandates leave very little room or little acknowledgement of vocational studies in which I believe in. I believe modern high school students have too few graduation tracks that interest the kids. Having undeveloped brains and immature emotions, not all high school students see the importance of high school having a future impact so they do not take their studies seriously. Todays speedy society creates this need for instant gratification, in tandem with the advancement of technologies. Another tricky issue is the respect/bonding trouble teachers are having with relating to students. I feel teachers need to have more patience with children, listen to them, be patient, dont be afraid to be firm and to do what is right even when it is hard, and patience… I think it would be a great idea if high schools installed the following classes/tracks and eased on the core classes. Mechanic shop, wood shop, Welding, plumbing, food preparation/kitchen management. I do not feel that the standards of the high school curriculum would be lowered but instead would give the students a greater interest and a personal investment in their own schooling. They would be interested in what they are doing and would be excited to come to school. The AP classes would still be available for the students who truly can handle it, not just because their buddies are in the class.

OT, but of much interest

February 10th, 2012
2:31 am

Growing education gap between rich and poor in US- well worth a look!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/education/education-gap-grows-between-rich-and-poor-studies-show.html?hpw

“Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.”

To I'm a teacher

February 10th, 2012
5:12 am

You wrote ” I taught in 2 different high schools where the only reason we did not meet AYP was student attendance – which is a parent responsibility but who got blamed for it…… the school.”

I agree attendance is a parental responsibility in almot all cases. In GA< it is rare a school would fail AYP because of attendance only. Our problem is test scores too. Are you in GA? Our state mandates a school counselor for every school and that counselor sends social workers to homes where attendance is slipping. Does your school have that ? Areyou in GA? If you an attendanced pattern of neglect, I encourage you to talk to your counselor to intervene early. Kids have to get the message that getting to school on time and prepared is important. It's something they will also have to do later in life. I stress it to my kids every single morning. I tell them you have to get up, get dressed and go to school. Later, you'll have to do the same for a job.

You can also contact your PTA for funds for things like alarm clocks for kids. You would be shocked to learn that elementary aged children are responsible for getting themselves up and ready while mom is still stocking shelves at Target on the third shift.

For those at risk kids, we need to do evreything we can to help them be successful. Good luck with that issue.

GM