Under No-Child-Left-Behind, large numbers of mandates were decided in Washington DC by the Department of Education…
State Boards had to wait to find out that which they would have to deal, then decide how to work with it…
Under the new ESSA that is changed. State Boards are the ones now given the ultimate power to decide education in that state… In a theoretical contest between Washington DC and the state, the state is now given top-right…
Many state school boards are not prepared for this… whether their state elects or has their governor appoint them, they are laypeople who are far removed from the daily grind which education extracts. Often having never set foot in a classroom since their high school graduation, they are now thrust into making policy that affects ever child under their control.
Often meeting only 8-10 times a year as a ceremonial function, they are now tasked with overseeing policy. Over the past several years, the membership of state boards has become younger and more diverse. While, in the past, sitting on a state board was the crown jewel for an accomplished educator, board members now range from bankers, lawyers, and doctors to outspoken parents of action.
As an example of who can be on these boards, residents in the East Texas region will soon decide whether to elect to the state board Mary Lou Bruner, a retired kindergarten teacher who has said in widely publicized Facebook posts that she believes that a young President Barack Obama worked as a gay prostitute, that the country should ban Muslims, and that the Democratic Party killed President John F. Kennedy.
Often these board members approach education only from a philosophy and are intent only on forwarding that philosophy onward, often putting them at odds with those who have a more practical focus on how to educate children.
In the past, board members were inconspicuous stewards convening in sparsely attended, daylong meetings where they debated education policy.
The ESSA law now adds plenty more to their plate. In the coming months, boards will be tasked with revising teacher evaluations, school report cards, and ways to intervene in their lowest-performing schools…..
Which means the window of opportunity to make changes to our state’s education system exists from now till June 1st.
Delaware citizens have a tool in a General Assembly at their disposal and policy elected and signed, does set the parameters of our state boards.
So whereas some may think OPT OUT is a dead issue, suddenly it becomes live again. Whereas some may think we are solidly committed to the smarter balanced future, suddenly getting rid of it becomes a real possibility again.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says more than 500 bills regarding state standards and assessments have been proposed across the country so far this year. Resentful that a massive wave of common-standards adoptions four years ago bypassed their chambers and subjected them to intense political heat, state lawmakers are taking steps to claim some of the authority that state boards of education have traditionally held over academic standards.
So now is an important time.. It is the equivalent of maneuvers done during the advent of the No-Child-Left-Behind which set policy for 15 years hence.
As a state we need to steer to these future goals which are open yet structured enough to insure that every child gets a first class education worthy of the First State…..
- Let teachers teach. They know your children best.
- Work toward an 11:1 student/teacher ratio in all classes k-5 and 9th grade where the school lunch level is over 50%.
- Divorce teacher accountability and school accountability from tests. Use tests only to benefit the child.
- Replace the Smarter Balanced test with one that is beneficial in giving us information on how well our child is doing….
- Begin phasing out charter schools by making their authorizer the district board in which their school resides…
Parents who step up can now make great changes in education for years to come.