Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(| Courtesy Photo) Jefferson Moss
Op-ed: State education board is maintaining Utah’s independence

By Jennifer Johnson and Jefferson Moss

First Published Aug 14 2014 05:12 pm • Last Updated Aug 14 2014 05:32 pm

There seems to be some confusion about an action by the Utah State Board of Education on Aug. 8. Although the board approved applying for a waiver from some parts of the federal law known as the No Child Left Behind Act, this was not the same waiver that the board had approved in 2012.

This year, the board approved several alternative assurances as part of its application to the U.S. Department of Education. For example, instead of assuring the department that the Common Core State Standards will be used, the state board assured that its standards are college and career-ready, and that Utah may change its standards at any time. Assurances about accountability testing and educator evaluations were likewise changed to state what Utah is doing and currently intends to do, but without any commitment to refrain from making changes in the future.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

These changes are best stated in the following paragraph that the board explicitly adopted as a clarification to be included in the new waiver:

"The State Board reserves its absolute and exclusive right to modify, without negative effects with respect to its Waiver, its Utah Core Standards, SAGE testing, UCAS report card, and PEER teacher and principal evaluations without approval of the U.S. Department of Education. The State Board further reserves its right to withdraw from the Waiver if the State Board finds that such Waiver violates Utah Code Ann. 53A-1-402.6(7)."

In addition to the confusion over what the board did, there appears to be misunderstanding about what may happen going forward. We are not in a situation where the U.S. Department of Education can issue Utah a warning, as they did with other states. The old waiver will expire, and the department will act upon the newly amended waiver application. Therefore, the likely outcomes for Utah will be (1) to receive a waiver with much less policy intrusion from the federal sources, (2) to receive notice of a federal rejection of our amended waiver, or (3) to begin negotiations on how the amended waiver might be further modified to suit both the U.S. Department of Education and the state board.

Under the first scenario, Utah would get a waiver that provides an exemption from the worst parts of No Child Left Behind, but without the policy commitments of the old waiver.

The second scenario would indicate that the policy commitments in the old waiver really did matter, and there would be an extremely compelling case that the federal administration is reaching beyond the boundaries of the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as violating other federal statutes, including No Child Left Behind.

Under the third scenario, the state board would negotiate for what is best for Utah and could help frame the national discussion about the efforts of a federal agency to set national public education policies.

The public generally and especially state legislators should pay attention to these possible outcomes. If Utah ends up in negotiations with the U.S. Department of Education over its amended waiver, the Legislature and state board would need to decide what to do in terms of policy and funding. Such collaboration would ensure that Utah would have a strong negotiating position for the benefit of Utah schools.

Jennifer Johnson represents District 8 on the State Board of Education, and Jefferson Moss represents District 11. Their view is not necessarily the opinion of the Utah State Board of Education.


story continues below
story continues below



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.