Congress doesn’t respect parents – not really

Congress doesn’t respect parents – not really

Quietly, behind the scenes for most people, states have been falling one by one to the federal control of education baked into Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Every Student Succeeds Act. Secretary Devos has been denying approval of the unconstitutional state education plans required by ESSA based, among a short list of reasons, on the lack of enforced compliance with the 95% testing requirement for all students. That means no parental refusal to test their children.

The most recent casualty was Utah which had requested a waiver for the 95% test rate to comply with recently passed state statute which says students can be opted out of statewide testing by their parents and, the school and its employees are to suffer no ill effects as a result of a parent exercising those parental rights. Secretary Devos, carrying out the instructions of the publicly unknown members of the plan review committee, denied this waiver request.

Utah joined other states like Colorado, a sort of ground zero for the opt out movement, who have had their state plans rejected. Colorado had their state plan rejected twice by the Secretary. Their state board of education eventually wrote into their plan that they would create two separate lists. The first list, sent to the USDE, counts all opted out students as non-proficient.  That got their plan approved. The state’s list, on the other hand, will count those students as non-participating and their rating will not affect their grades. In addition, participation rates of less than 95% will not have a negative affect on a school’s rating. You can read more about their bizarre system that will now exist in Colorado in Chalkbeat.

The stated goal in ESSA for these state plans is to identify schools that need additional support and to get additional resources (i.e. money) to those schools. Supporters claim that we need to test every student to determine where those additional resources are needed. A different rationale from groups who back the 95% participation rate is that parents want information which actually tells them how their school and district is performing. If they were really honest they would acknowledge that most parents don’t care how the district or even school as a whole is doing[…]

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