Back And Forth To Start The Week…

There’s a lively debate over Common Core these days but Jay Greene’s latest salvo at The Department of Education is pretty ridiculous. Leave aside that there is actually a big difference between incentives and mandates, what’s the evidence federal dollars are being spent on curriculum in violation of the law? In fact, like FERPA, it’s common knowledge that the letter of the law here is less constraining than the perception.  As we saw on Race to the Top and the sorry debate there, just because you don’t like what the Department is doing does not make it illegal or even bad faith.

On the other hand, while you expect a lot of misinformation in this business it might inspire more confidence if the Department’s own top people understood how their policies actually work.  Just because people keep saying NCLB creates accountability systems based on a single test doesn’t mean that’s what the law actually requires…

Also click over here: Some smart stuff up on the TitleIderland blog worth checking out.

Update: Justin Hamilton adds this:

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify any misinterpretation of my statement.  During an online exchange with with teachers and others on twitter, a participant in the discussion said, “end high stakes testing! Should your worth be measured based on one day’s performance?”, which I interpreted as an incorrect assumption of what the Department’s policy proposals call for. I sought to clarify the issue by making clear that “we want to measure growth.”

2 Replies to “Back And Forth To Start The Week…”

  1. You dismiss my post as ridiculous because you assert that there is no evidence that the Department is spending money on curriculum. If you read my post you would see a statement from a spokesperson at US DOE in which he says they are developing curriculum. In addition, the law prohibits the Dept from directing, controlling, or supervising the content of instructional materials. There is no question that they are doing that with the supplementary contracts to the two testing consortia.

    I’m not simply saying this because I dislike what they are doing. I am saying it because they are in clear violation of the law. Why don’t you post the language of the law, as I did, and explain how they are not violating it.

  2. For those who aren’t going by Jay’s blog:

    Our criticism of the nationalization of standards, curriculum, and assessments elicited the following statement from Peter Cunningham, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education: “Just for the record: we are for high standards, not national standards and we are for a well-rounded curriculum, not a national curriculum. There is a big difference between funding development of curriculum—which is something we have always done—and mandating a national curriculum—which is something we have never done. And yes—we believe in using incentives to advance our agenda.”

    Let’s leave aside the double-speak of how incentivizing is somehow different from mandating. Instead, let’s focus on his admission that the Department is “funding development of curriculum” and is “using incentives to advance our agenda.”

    The 1979 law by which the U.S. Department of Education is authorized in its current form clearly prohibits these activities. It states (in section 103b): “No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law.”

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