In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Department of Education is pulling Washington State’s No Child Left Behind waiver, making the state vulnerable to draconian cuts should their schools fail to meet the requirements of the law. The waiver was pulled because Washington has refused to tie teacher evaluations to student performance metrics. The State Legislature had an opportunity earlier this year to pass a bill that would preserve the waiver by implementing a waiver-compliant evaluation system, but the bill failed because, as explained by Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, “the teachers union felt it was more important to protect their members than agree to that change and pressured the Legislature not to act.”
The Minnesota Senate Education Committee, earlier this legislative session, attempted to delay teacher evaluations despite the U.S. Department of Education warning the legislature last year that our NCLB waiver would be in jeopardy should our educator evaluations be delayed or weakened. Fortunately, the Senate Finance Committee blocked the delay from occurring and prevented Minnesota from going down the same path as Washington State.
In the next few months, the Washington State Legislature will undoubtedly try to reclaim their NCLB waiver by implementing common sense policies. In Minnesota, we should heed the White House's warning–implement teacher evaluations with fidelity and in a timely manner.