Uncle Sam, May I?

There has been some talk in the current school board race that getting an NCLB waiver to end SINA transfers would be great for the district.

Despite being called ESEA Flexibility Waivers, there isn’t really all that much flexibility–just a different way to be locked into a high-stakes testing/school ranking/accountability scheme.

I’ve previously outlined the provisions of Iowa’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver request and I still think it is too high of a price to pay to avoid SINA transfers.  (When all schools are SINA schools, won’t that change how the whole SINA transfer thing works anyway?  Which schools could be designated as receiving schools?)

So, go check it out and see what is in the request.  Because, from the looks of these EdWeek articles, we would be locked into the details of the waiver plan if we “won” a waiver under threat of having our waiver revoked or having to go back to the USDE to ask permission to make changes.

EdWeek reports that federal approval is only required for major but not technical changes, but how would you know whether a change would be considered major or technical?  Apparently waiver states are expected to consult the USDE on all proposed changes and let them decide.

Now consider that the USDE just offered one-year waivers to a group of California public school districts, bypassing the state DE altogether.  A cynical person might think that looks like an awfully attractive opportunity for the USDE to keep moving the goalposts; all without Congress–or the Iowa Legislature–taking a vote.

Would that really be better for the district?