Wyoming Liberty Group
A New Education Solution to Fix the Old Education Solution
For more than five decades the federal government has been quick to come up with one giant ready-made solution after another to solve the problems afflicting the public education system.
And Wyoming, like all states, for generations has been more than eager to apply these solutions to their local classrooms and students, no questions asked.
Like the layers of paint you find in an old home, one on top of another, we have seen a pattern of applying the newest federal solution – filled with all kinds of new federal strings – to solve a problem created by the previous federal solution, which was also filled with complicated and harmful federal strings. And so the cycle goes.
This past February, on the heels of the passage of SF 104 and under the helm of then newly appointed interim director Jim Rose, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) applied for a variety of flexibility waivers offered by the Obama administration. The rationale for the waivers was to get Wyoming out from under provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) –a federal program that required states to set standards and test students based on those standards with federal consequences for failure. The downside of receiving those waivers was WDE’s apparent willingness to put Wyoming under yet another battery of federal strings that come permanently attached to the waivers.
Last Friday (August 30, 2013), one portion of Wyoming’s federal waiver application was approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and the state was given approval to apply yet another coat of federal solutions on top of the old layer of federal solutions – thereby correcting the federal problem created by the last federal solution. Wait, are you still with me?
And what has all of this federally mandated standard setting and testing of students gotten us in Wyoming? Hold on to your hats, here’s one example. In fourth-grade reading Wyoming’s average National Assessment of Educational Progress scores from 1992 to 2011 rose tepidly from 223 to 224. So much for federal solutions.
As a model of educational accountability (or so it was marketed), NCLB was touted to be an incredible solution to the problems of education in America. By 2014 students in each state were to have achieved 100-percent proficiency in Math and English Language Arts. Not surprisingly, as Wyoming’s scores display, that hasn’t happened.
Eleven years since its passage, NCLB has been so successful that 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Bureau of Indian Education have all submitted requests for waivers. To date, 41 states have been granted these waivers, including Wyoming. That’s 11 years of a federal program promising big results – and delivering none.