NSBA: Do not force Washington schools to send school failure letters under NCLB

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging the U.S. Department of Education to exempt Washington’s education agency from the 14-day requirement to issue letters informing parents of school choice options for schools deemed “failing” under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Many of Washington’s public schools will be labeled as “failing” this year from what are widely considered unfair and punitive NCLB sanctions this spring. Washington had received a waiver from the most punitive requirements, but the Department of Education revoked that waiver when state lawmakers refused to change the state’s teacher evaluation system earlier this year.

Forcing Washington’s public schools to issue such letters is counterproductive because many schools are making significant progress, and the action would erode residents’ trust in public schools, the letter warns.

“Imposing this requirement on Washington’s schools is a disservice that could hurt the morale of students, erode community confidence, affect support from business partners, impact the ability to attract and retain effective teachers and leaders, and reduce other resources that benefit the students,” NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel wrote.

For instance, the letters would negatively impact voting on bond issues and levies for capital improvement projects to improve school infrastructure and provide 21st century learning environments, and hurt schools’ abilities to sustain and build support from businesses and industry, the letter states.

“Instead of supporting Washington’s schools and students, the Department would be damaging the very progress that Washington’s school boards, administrators, teachers and staff, parents, businesses and communities have achieved for their students,” Gentzel wrote.

Here’s the full letter:

Dear Secretary Duncan:

The National School Boards Association, representing over 90,000 local school board members through our state associations, urges your swift consideration to exempt the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) from the 14-day notice requirement regarding public school choice for the upcoming school year.

The letters that are currently required would convey a great level of ambiguity about the condition of many schools, labeling them as failing. Conversely, several schools have made significant gains in raising student achievement, from graduation rates and reading proficiency to parental involvement. In fact, the Department has acknowledged school districts in Washington for their success in improving educational opportunities and outcomes for their students. Hence, the 14-day letters would be counterproductive to the students, schools, and communities, especially when there are extremely limited school choice options in the state.

Imposing this requirement on Washington’s schools is a disservice that could hurt the morale of students, erode community confidence, affect support from business partners, impact the ability to attract and retain effective teachers and leaders, and reduce other resources that benefit the students. For example, several communities are slated to consider bond issues and levies for capital improvement projects to improve school infrastructure and provide 21st century learning environments. What good would the letters do in supporting these community efforts? They would discourage citizens and community support instead of fostering the very resources the Department encourages within states and communities. Additionally, what purpose would the letters serve in helping Washington’s schools sustain and build support from businesses and industry in securing partnerships for programs such as Career and Technical Education or arts and humanities? Would the letters influence these and other decisions?

Instead of supporting Washington’s schools and students, the Department would be damaging the very progress that Washington’s school boards, administrators, teachers and staff, parents, businesses and communities have achieved for their students.

Therefore, we urge you to exempt Washington’s school districts from this requirement. Please contact Reginald M. Felton, Interim Associate Executive Director, at (703) 838-6782, or rfelton@nsba.org, regarding any further information about this request. We appreciate your consideration and look forward to working closely with you throughout this process.

 

Sincerely,
/s/

Thomas J. Gentzel
Executive Director, NSBA

Joetta Sack-Min|July 18th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, No Child Left Behind|Tags: , , , |

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