In a nutshell: Secretary Arne Duncan violated federal law seeking to punish state school disability programs, got caught big time, and a federal Dept. of Education official is here in Utah on a “routine” visit. Time for a protest.
What you are about to read should result in congressional hearings and Arne Duncan probably being fired as the US Secretary of Education.
Federal law sets forth certain things that can be done under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). No one may circumvent those laws. Only Congress can change laws, but because of the current Executive Branch’s agenda to bring states under federal control, grant-based regulations and mandates have increasingly been created by Secretary Duncan, in violation of the Constitution.
On June 24, 2014, Secretary Duncan circumvented congress and issued mandates for changes in the way state special education programs are evaluated. (http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-accountability-framework-raises-bar-state-special-education-programs)
“To improve the educational outcomes of America’s 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education today announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of states’ special education programs.”
He then went on to explain what changes he is mandating.
Eight U.S. senators prepared a letter explaining the violations of law involved in Duncan’s action and asked the Secretary a number of very pointed questions. Evidently, Senator Hatch from Utah walked that letter into a meeting, interrupting it, to deliver it to Secretary Duncan. The senators’ letter is embedded at the bottom of this article.
In essence, the mandate changes the way the school funding game is played by suddenly announcing that historical NAEP test score data will be used retroactively to evaluate federal funding on schools that have children with disabilities. As the senators’ letter points out this is a very clear violation of the law.
Duncan calls this new framework, “Results-Driven Accountability.” It’s simply unconstitutional and illegal. The press release states:
“Last year, when the Department considered only compliance data in making annual determinations, 41 states and territories met requirements. This year, however, when the Department includes data on how students are actually performing, only 18 states and territories meet requirements.”
Why are they so eager to tell states they aren’t meeting requirements? So they can enact more requirements. It’s the way things work for those in power. Tell schools they aren’t performing and then punish them with additional requirements.
Utah happens to be coming up short and is on the list of states that “need assistance.” The USDOE continues, “If a state needs assistance for two years in a row, IDEA requires the Department to take actions such as requiring the state to obtain technical assistance or identifying the state as a high-risk grant recipient.”
So Utah is at risk of losing federal funds due to the feds moving the goal post and mandating, against the rules of the game, that teams retroactively enact the new rules. Suddenly the score that was 14-0, is 0-0.
Now I’m no fan of federal funding in any respect and I’d love to see it abolished, but until we are able to accomplish that, this is an egregious violation of the law and should result in Duncan and maybe others being short-timers on the hill for their actions.
NAEP was supposed to be for a common set of data between the states and was mandated to never be used for high stakes testing determination.
So what kind of “technical assistance” does the USDOE have in mind?
“As part of the move to RDA, OSERS [Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services] will fund a new $50 million technical assistance center – the Center on Systemic Improvement – to help states leverage the $11.5 billion in federal special education funds which they currently receive to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. In addition, OSERS will be working with each state to support them in developing comprehensive plans designed to improve results for children with disabilities.”
Because so many states were suddenly deemed to be below threshold (without knowing that’s how they would be evaluated), we’re going to see a new federal “assistance” center because obviously the states aren’t capable of educating children with disabilities. We “need” that federal help… (Oh, and Common Core isn’t being pushed by the feds either, of course.)
Interestingly, Gregory Corr, the Director of Monitoring and State Improvement Planning at OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs), is coming to Utah *right now* to do some type of investigation. This is beyond normal. Directors don’t go to states on “routine” visits. I understand he will be at the State Office of Education on Thursday.
Please come to the protest on Thursday at 11:00 – 12:30 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, 230 West 200 South. The parking lot is shared with the US post office. Help tell the the feds to stop violating the law, stop violating Utah’s sovereignty, and stop messing with children with disabilities. It’s OUR education system. Lets give Greg a “warm” welcome. Bring your signs.