Editorial – Teachers, Dems at fault for waiver loss

April 29, 2014

By Stacy Buell

The impacts of the state losing its No Child Left Behind waiver are unlikely to be profound locally, but they are still an embarrassment — an embarrassment that could easily have been avoided.

Washington, along with 42 other states, was operating under a waiver that allows the state to essentially ignore some portions of the federal law. But that waiver was revoked last week.

We are in this mess because the state teacher’s union and Democrat members of the Legislature were unwilling to allow test scores to be a factor in teacher evaluations.

Both groups point to the federal No Child Left Behind law as a failure, and say that it is at fault.

They’re not entirely wrong. No Child Left Behind mandates that, as of this year, 100 percent of students must meet their grade-level standard in reading and math, and prove they can by passing a test.

It doesn’t take an expert in testing theory to realize this is foolish. If everyone passes a test, then the test is too easy. Some people are just on the left side of the bell curve. Certainly, schools have an obligation to try and educate lower-performing students to their full potential. However, it serves no one to pretend that all people have the same potential — some people are just smarter, while others, well, aren’t.

But focusing on the failings of the underlying law deflects the blame. Whether or not the carrot of waivers and the stick of No Child Left Behind is a good system, that’s the system we are working under.

Now, because of the intractability of the union and the members of the Legislature who follow their lead, school districts will have to spend money on federally mandated fixes, instead of being able to tailor solutions to problems of each district.

Teacher’s unions have resisted using test scores for years, saying they are not a fair way to measure a teacher’s skill.

But dozens of other states, including some with Democrat-controlled Legislatures, have found ways to implement a teacher evaluation system that meets federal muster.

Washington needs to do the same.

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2 Responses to “Editorial – Teachers, Dems at fault for waiver loss”

  1. Cite Me on May 2nd, 2014 3:59 pm

    Holding a teacher responsible for the failing of child that has no parental involvement and lousy teaching from years past is wrong. The child is only in the teacher’s classroom for a brief period. The teacher can be the very best there is, but if the parents make no effort then the teacher can only help improve the student a limited amount.

  2. Too much of a simplification on May 3rd, 2014 4:45 pm

    It’s regrettably true that the WEA has opposed efforts to bring accountability and performance measurement to education- why can I read reviews about physicians, but not teachers? But it’s also true that the Republican Party has shown itself to be opposed to the very existence of unions, through efforts to chip away at their legal rights and the very concept of collective bargaining, and through scapegoating on the state pension program- which was a promise made between employer and employee back when such promises meant something. As long as Republicans make the unions out to be anticapitalist boogie men, unions will look to protection from the Democratic Party and try to drive its agenda in Olympia and Washington, DC. Also, last time I checked, Republicans controlled the State Senate, where they can’t even figure out how to fund McCleary much less address NCLB. To just blame this on Democrats is simplistic.

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