Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Utah delays

The story yesterday morning was that the Utah Senate might pass the bill to end that state's involvement with NCLB, forcing the Governor to sign it or make the very unpopular move of vetoing it. Instead, they decided -- at the Governor's urging -- to wait. A special session was announced last night; it will convene April 20.

The move to delay will give Spellings and the feds about six weeks to compromise. They have indicated, according to yesterday morning's article, that they will not negotiate in several areas:

A letter faxed Tuesday from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education Darla Marburger to [Utah] Superintendent [of Schools] Patti Harrington summarizes the "common understanding" between the state and feds:
* The department recognizes Utah's standards for veteran elementary teacher quality.
* The department acknowledges Utah's concerns over federal standards for special education teacher quality but won't budge.
* Utah can develop its own standards for measuring the quality of rural teachers who teach several core subjects.
* Utah's school accountability system must measure the academic progress of all student groups, including ethnic minorities, English learners, students with disabilities, and low-income students.
The letter also invites Utah representatives to Washington for further discussions. A trip is planned for later this month.

This will be an interesting process to watch unfold. Opponents of NCLB should have no illusions: this does not, in any way, foretell the death of No Child Left Behind. But it does open the door for reasonable modification to allow meaningful discretion for states in what has been, to this point, a fairly draconian law.


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