The Blame Game
Considering the way a recent announcement from the U.S. Department of Education caught Washington state officials by surprise, NCLB might stand for No Confusion Left Behind.
The federal department that orchestrates the No Child Left Behind act announced Friday that Washington and eight other states face the loss of federal aid because they have not tried hard enough to meet a deadline for having a highly qualified teacher in every core class. But our state's Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction blamed the ponderous federal bureaucracy. OSPI already had directed school districts to compile teacher certification data for the 2005-2006 school year to meet federal requirements, and forcing districts to embark on time-consuming data-gathering efforts for 2004-2005, as the feds demanded last week, was impractical.
A spokeswoman for the state OSPI also said the U.S. Department of Education did not respond in a timely fashion in providing qualified-teacher definitions. But the feds sounded unsympathetic in their drive to force NCLB compliance. "At some point there was, I suspect, a little bit of notion (among states) that 'This too shall pass,' " said Henry Johnson of the Department of Education. "Well, the day of reckoning is here, and it's not going to pass." Talking tough is fine when it comes to improving public schools, but OSPI's explanation sounds valid, too. So we have to ask: How 'bout a little more communication here?
OSPI officials say they'll get right on it. Until then, OSPI chief Terry Bergeson is bragging that Washington state has "more teachers with master's degrees than ... anywhere else in the U.S. We have an incredible teaching corps." It's also significant that in the past two years the number of educators who attended OSPI professional development conferences tripled over the previous two years.
Not until there's better communication among education higher-ups in the two Washingtons Olympia and D.C. can it be known if NCLB is really working.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES