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[Susan notes: I gave up hope the letter would ever appear. It took them two weeks. I wrote it on the theory of 'catch them doing something right.' The 'them' being the state board of education, NOT the commissioner who insists on echoing everything Arne says.]

Published in Burlington Free Press
10/30/2011
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011110300303

To the editor



Education waiver holds risks for Vermont



Molly Walsh's article ("Vermont seeks relief from No Child Left Behind Act," Oct. 16) reflects Education Commissioner Vilaseca's optimism. The truth of the matter is that, bad as the federal No Child Left Behind law is, experts fear the waiver lure proffered by the U.S. Department of Education is likely to be worse. Writing at Economic Policy Institute blog, respected analyst Richard Rothstein pointed out that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's waiver restrictions are pushing states "to adopt accountability conditions that are even more absurd, more unworkable, more fanciful than those in the law itself



But here in Vermont there's still hope. In the face of Commissioner Vilaseca's insistence (at the Oct. 3 special Board of Education meeting via conference call) that "Only the commissioner has the authority to request a waiver," our state Board of Education voted unanimously ΓΆ€” unanimously ΓΆ€” that they want to see that waiver request before it is sent to Washington.



It was a six-zero declaration that our state board isn't quite ready to be bamboozled by the feds.



Kudos to the board.

Susan Ohanian


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