U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s criticism of a bill before the California Assembly is a primer example of federal overreach. Granted, I’m not a fan of the bill either, and I’m surprised by Duncan’s reaction.
The bill, AB 484 which I wrote about earlier, will speed up California’s time table on adopting the Smarter Balanced Assessments which is foolhardy. However because they want to suspend test scores for a year that has earned the ire of Duncan.
Can’t go a year without that data you see.
The lack of test scores attracted Duncan’s criticism.
"Letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition," he said in a statement. "No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing."
Duncan declined to specify what action he would take, and in fact, the federal government has no direct authority over state school systems. But the department controls billions of dollars in federal funds, which can make up about 10% of a school district’s budget. This money adds up to about $600 million a year for Los Angeles Unified, according to the district.
"If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds," Duncan said.
Since when does Duncan suddenly care about the law? They don’t seem to have a problem issuing unconstitutional No Child Left Behind waivers in order to bypass Congress. Ridiculous.
So a chilling example for other states. Shut off the data spigot for even a short time and the U.S. Department of Education will tighten the purse strings.