Vermont decided not to apply for a waiver from NCLB.
Not because it loves NCLB. No one does.
But because Vermont education officials had their own ideas about how to help their schools.
And they discovered that Arne Duncan’s offer to give them “flexibility” was phony.
He did not want to hear Vermont’s ideas. Contrary to his claims, the waivers do not offer flexibility.
What Arne Duncan wants states to do is to agree to his own demands, not to shape their own destiny.
He wants them to allow more privately managed charters. He wants them to evaluate teachers by student test scores. He wants them to adopt Common Core state standards. He wants them to agree to threaten and close down schools with low test scores. He has a laundry list of what he wants them to do.
Of course, this is all very puzzling since none of Arne Duncan’s mandates have a solid basis in research or evidence. In that regard, they are not much different from NCLB. You might say they represent NCLB without the timetable.
Even more puzzling is the assumption that Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education know how to reform the schools of the nation. It is not as if anyone would look at Arne Duncan’s Chicago as a model for the nation. That district is once again being “reformed,” this time by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
And from a strictly Constitutional point of view, the U.S. Department of Education has never been empowered to tell schools and school districts how to reform themselves.
Quite candidly, there is no one at the U.S. Department of Education who is competent to tell entire states how to reform their schools.
So, kudos to Vermont.
A state that said no to federal control, federal mandates, privatization, and other bad ideas.
As often, I add a footnote to the original post: Bruce Baker of Rutgers alerted me to a change in governance in Vermont. The legislature just passed a bill to have the state commissioner of education report to the governor. This opens the way for business community and privatizers to exert more influence. Privatizers like to eliminate input from parents and communities, making it easier for them to get what they want.
Vermonters: Don’t let it happen.
Stay outside the consensus.
Keep Vermont and Vermont parents and communities in charge of your schools.