Sacramento City Unified and eight other large districts across the state have been granted a waiver by the US Dept. of Education from No Child Left Behind. The waiver frees the districts from requirements to set aside Title 1 money for tutoring and transportation for students that request to attend another school with better test scores. It also requires district to set up new accountability systems that evaluate teachers on the basis of students test scores.
The Bee recently featured some articles and opinion pieces on the failure of the NCLB tutoring system, which has a poor track record and little oversight by the state. Like an artillery barrage before an assault, the Bee seemingly was softening up resistance to this new regime, which will set the districts on a separate course from the state's accountability system. Today's article on the story features the familiar adversarial relationship between dedicated "reformers", like the superintendents of these districts, and teachers' unions, who are against being judged on student test scores.
The Bee leaves out the crux of the story. In its article on the waiver the reporter neglects to mention that these districts will now answer to an appointed board of "stakeholders" that will hold districts accountable for meeting new standards. They will be the arbiters of actions taken by the districts. This board will be making decisions for over one million students and their parents, and thousands of teachers. Who will hold them accountable? They won't be answerable to voters or taxpayers. There's no mention of this anti-democratic bureaucracy in the article.
It's not clear what exactly the role of the elected schools boards is under this waiver. Did these school boards know what they were signing on too? The waiver is an "experiment" that will last for one year. Did parents in these districts agree to have their children experimented on? While millions of Title 1 dollars will no longer be held in reserve, what guarantee is there that the money will go to the classroom and not to consultants to devise the new accountability measures for teachers?
The Bee should scrutinize this deal and inform its readers. The parents, students and taxpayers of Sacramento City Unified deserve to know more about the real effects of this waiver. However, as long as it fits with the Bee's anti-union stance and support for the privatization of public education, the public will again be left in the dark about the facts.
You can learn more about the waiver in the article from Ed Week posted on our website. A link to the Bee article is below.