California Educator

September 2013

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Districts granted NCLB waivers without teacher input I N T H E F I R S T action of its kind, the Obama administration granted No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers to eight California districts, allowing them to set up their own accountability system and to police themselves through their own board of directors. The eight districts (Fresno Unified, Long Beach Unified, Los Angeles Unified, Oakland Unified, Sacramento City Unified, San Francisco Unified, Sanger Unified, and Santa Ana Unified), serving 1 million students, joined a consortium called the California Office to Reform Education (CORE). In taking this action, the U.S. Department of Education recognized a new educational legal entity, outside of the state's systems of districts. As a separate, eligible legal entity, CORE could apply for the waiver on its own behalf. Until now, states have been the only entities to receive the "No Child Left Behind" waivers announced by President Barack Obama in 2011. There were strings attached, such as implementing teacher evaluation systems linked to student test scores. In exchange, states were relieved of key requirements of NCLB, such as that schools bring all students to proficiency in reading and math by the end of the 2013-14 school year. All schools certainly deserve relief from the unreasonable one-size-fits-all requirements and sanctions of NCLB, but from a statewide perspective, CTA has two major concerns with these NCLB waivers. • Educators were excluded from the process. • chool districts can operate outside the accountability of the S California Department of Education. "Excluding educators and their unions from the entire process is simply not how you go about transforming public schools," says CTA President Dean E. Vogel. "You don't deliberately exclude the people who are working with students every day and then as an afterthought say, 'Hey teachers, attend a meeting so we can explain the plan to you.' That approach tells educators their input isn't important or needed, and that is certainly not how you bring people together to do what's best for students." CTA was supposedly appointed to some "pseudo oversight committee," Vogel adds, "but no one asked us about it or even told us we were in the proposal. It's just really disappointing that the U.S. Secretary of Education plays this loose with children's future, and it shows that his rhetoric about the importance of involving teachers in education decisions is just that, rhetoric." "It's really a slap in the face to not be consulted and to not be part of such a dramatic change," says Sacramento City Teachers Association President Nikki Milevsky. She notes that Common Core implementation and the state's new accountability rules tied to changes in the student funding formula are already having major implications for teachers. "Those are huge changes that can create a lot of good for students," she says, "yet now we're going to be distracted by chasing flexibility for money that's already there." The CORE districts no longer have to: • rovide tutoring and P transportation for school choice as required under NCLB. • se prescribed U interventions for persistently low-performing schools, such as school "restructuring." • dhere to a goal of A 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by the end of the 2013-14 school year. CTC Approved Online Added Authorizations Autism Spectrum Disorders Early Childhood Special Education Traumatic Brain Injury The CORE districts committed to: • dopt new educator A evaluation guidelines (based in part on student growth) by Dec. 1, pilot the new systems in the 2014-15 school year, and implement them the following year. • reate a school gradC ing system based 60 percent on academic factors such as test scores and graduation rates, 20 percent on social-emotional factors such as the absentee rate, and 20 percent on culture and climate factors such as student and parent surveys. High quality, self-paced, cost effective programs for teachers The Project Optimal Added Authorization Programs were created to provide affordable, accessible and credible educational programs for California Education Specialist holders needing to add expertise in the areas of special education that were not part of their original credential authorization. Enrollment is available any time and group tuition rates are available. To learn more, visit or contact Donna Barranco Fisher at (805) 691-9398. • mplement fully the I new Common Core State Standards in the 2013-14 school year. Wiseburn School District is the Program Sponsor for the Project Optimal Autism Spectrum Disorders Program Educator 09 Sep 2013 v3.6 int.indd 39 9/3/13 2:26 PM

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