I’m fortunate to live in the town of Bedford New Hampshire. Bedford parents continually report on the quality of teachers we are able to hire and retain due to the community support. However under a new initiative from the Obama Administration, this is no longer acceptable.
Recently U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan unveiled his “50 State Teacher Equity” strategy. Duncan has asked all states to submit a, new “State Educator Equity Plan in accordance with the requirements of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).”
In this plan, “each SEA must, among other things, describe the steps it will take to ensure that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers.” To prepare a strong plan, each SEA will analyze what its stakeholders and data have to say about the root causes of inequities and will craft its own solutions.”
Through massive data collection on teachers, bureaucrats will now be able to create “State specific teacher equity profiles”.
According to Education Week, ” States will be required to submit new plans to address teacher distribution by April of 2015, or just a few months before the department likely will begin to consider states’ requests to renew their waivers from the NCLB law.” They go on to say, “But addressing that problem won’t be easy. States have a limited authority and capacity to ensure that districts distribute teachers fairly, since decisions like hiring and transfers tend to be made at the local level.”
That’s right, New Hampshire teachers are hired through local districts. Current law says, “189:39 How Chosen. – Superintendents shall nominate and school boards elect all teachers employed in the schools in their school administrative unit, providing such teachers hold a valid educational credential issued by the state board of education.”
Will the State redistribute teachers hired in towns like Bedford to other districts they determine have hired poor performing teachers? Who decides which teachers are highly qualified and those who are not? Will the teachers forced to use confusing Common Core math, fall into the category of “unqualified”if the students do not understand what many Teachers, Mathematicians and Child Psychologists have determined is developmentally inappropriate? Knowing many of these teachers were not foolish enough to choose the confusing Common Core math curriculum to begin with?
While the Secretary does not prescribe specific details, one has to wonder exactly how this is accomplished. Will they eventually try to redistribute teachers? Will this be another attempt to spend more money? According to the article in Education Week, they couldn’t lay out a specific plan.
How will this impact the State’s request for the Feds to reauthorize the “No Child Left Behind Waiver”? Will the NH Department of Education, again, submit to giving away state and local control to qualify for the “waiver”? What exactly will the NH Dept. of Ed give away this time? According to the article, the “waiver” could be dependent on what the State is willing to do to meet this “equity” arrangement.
This is now how public education works in New Hampshire. Mandates, grants, strategies, etc. now drive local New Hampshire public schools. NO longer are parents, school board members or even the NH Dept. of Ed running the show. It’s the Federal Government through the centralizing of education that now drives local schools.
Parents have lost their voice. School Boards have become marginalized and told how their public schools will be run. Superintendents attend closed door meetings with Commissioner Barry who gets her marching orders from the Feds. Superintendents follow along and then come back to the School Board Members to inform them how things must be done. With the threat of mandates, rules and the loss of funding, School Boards then lack the will to challenge this power grab and push back.
Some Governors, Administrators and School Boards around the country are pushing back and saying no. Unfortunately for New Hampshire not only is Governor Hassan refusing to say no, she seems perfectly willing to facilitate the power grab that has eroded local control in our pubic schools.
With no clear definition on how the Feds will fix this “crisis” in education, one is left to speculate. School districts that have the need for better teachers, have been grappling with how to hire and retain the best qualified teachers. Now they will have to submit a plan to unelected bureaucrats who seems to believe they have the answers. However they are not providing those specific answers, YET. One has to wonder what Commissioner Barry is telling Superintendents to do so she can report back to the Feds in order to qualify for the next NCLB Waiver and meet this new “equity” requirement. Since these are closed door meetings with no public record or notes, one is left to speculate.
Teachers are human beings and like all organizations that rely upon individuals to perform at a level of excellence, those problems are best solved at the local level. School Boards can appeal to taxpayers if there is a genuine need for higher wages. The local taxpayers can then decide if they have the means to provide that additional funding and if it’s truly justified.
Bureaucrats in Washington D.C. who do not know our individual teachers and tax rates should trust that we can work with our unique situations accordingly.