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The National Governor’s Association gave us Common Core State Standards. Where do they stand with the re-authorization of NCLB? Hey, anything that lets them tell their businesses that they are free to use the public school system as their employee training centers and shift liability for employee performance to the state is fine with them.

From their recent press release

“The Elementary and Secondary Education Act will allow states to align our needs through early education to higher education with the needs of our innovative businesses, developing a stronger workforce development pipeline, expanding opportunity for all of our people and ensuring that students are prepared for success in all phases of life,” said New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, vice chair of the committee.”

 They believe the “new act should improve the law’s governance structure to provide states greater authority to align and leverage their early education, K-12 and postsecondary policies to increase educational effectiveness.” They can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that if their states are in charge of education, there is no need for a federal plan or governance structure. Governance resides with the governors of the states. They are  asking for federal approval to do what they already have constitutional authority to do. It’s a bit like someone sitting at a green light waiting for the traffic cop to show up and wave them through.

“Governors will continue their discussion of federal education policy that works for states and students on Sunday, February 22, at the NGA Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.”

Here’s a hint NGA – a federal education policy that works for states and students is a policy of staying out of education.

The  NGA and the National Conference of State Legislatures released their own  “Governors’ and State Legislators’ Plan to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.” The good news is that, in this plan, we are all students now.

“Students need a supportive, seamless progression from preschool through college to lifelong learning and successful employment.” As long as we are learning we are students and the state has a responsibility to make sure we are learning as they deem necessary. They want a “federal education policy supports students in all phases of life.” Anyone else just a little creeped out by that?

They also would like greater ” flexibility for public-private partnerships to enhance ESEA programs and deliver better results through technical assistance, professional development and state and local report cards.” P3’s are those great ventures that put public money it in the hands of unaccountable private entities. It worked so well with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Solyndra, and General Motors, I’m sure they will be great with education too.

A clue about what they really want might be in this statement from the press release about what role the feds have. “It [ESEA] also should support state-led strategies to improve low-performing schools and include the ability to empower teachers and school leaders to prepare all students for success.”  What is preventing you from “empowering” everyone to prepare students for success now Governors? Key word there is “support” which equals money. As long as the federal government is willing to dangle dollars out there, the governors will be willing to wait at the trough to feed.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, chair of the NGA Education and Workforce Committee is the only one who seems to have the slightest clue. “Forty-three states are operating under waivers from No Child Left Behind. While waivers are important tools that provide states with flexibility to innovate and to manage programs, government by waiver is a sign that underlying laws do not work and are in need of reform.” Hey Governor Sandoval – you would have all the flexibility in the world to educate and innovate if you weren’t trying to achieve goals that someone else set for you that don’t make sense, like 100% proficiency on tests designed to show 50% of the students performing below some artificially  assigned proficiency cut point.

Outcome Based Education, School To Work, Goals 2000, NCLB are all signs that the federal government is incapable of drafting workable or effective laws regarding education. Reform at this level will not work. Such laws, by the very fact that they  require central control (and accountability), are destined not to work for education and need to be eliminated. Unfortunately our Governors don’t recognize that they already have all the authority they need to do what they want and instead are asking for permission, thereby granting control to the feds. This is not leadership Governors. This is middle management at best.

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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