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A "Dear John" letter from Vermont


Dear Mr. Secretary, from the good people of the State of Vermont with ardent support from the good parents of Oregon

In July of 2016 the Vermont State Board of Education wrote a letter to John B. King, Jr., the second Secretary of Education under President Obama. It wouldn't be incorrect to characterize King as a corporate education reformer with an eye toward privatizing our public schools. He is pro high stakes testing and charter schools and anti teachers and their unions. He appears to be back-pedaling on measures instituted by the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to make the law resemble more and more its failed predecessor No ChildLeft Behind. That's why it is so refreshing to see the Vermont Board of Ed send this letter to Secretary King.

Parents Across America Oregon recognizes the noble ideas and sentiments put forth by Vermont and wishes to echo its support -- however limited by differences in state law that support is relegated to be. Standardized testing still seems to be central to Secretary King's plan even though current tests, SBAC and PARCC, have been found to be invalid, unreliable, costly, and of little value to teachers and students.

"With two-thirds of the score variance attributable to outside of school factors, test scores gaps measure the health of our society more than the quality of the schools."

Authors of the letter stress this point: "Regarding the draft regulations, we think they go well beyond the role of the federal government as specified in ESSA. The regulations need to be brought into conformity with the parameters authorized in law."

Succinctly, this bulleted list relates key concerns about King's ESSA. Details illuminating each point may be read at the link above:

  • Education and Accountability is More Than Test Scores

  • Summative Labels/Ranking Schools by a Single Score

  • Lock-Stepping/Lack of flexibility

  • Cut scores

  • Minimum N - validity and reliability

"We take note of the $1.3 billion budget cut approved by the House Appropriations Committee. While you have recently called for a broader “well-rounded” education, you suggest that these initiatives be paid for out of the funds that were just slashed."

Parents Across America Oregon lauds the letter sent to John King by the Vermont State Board of Education and urges the Oregon Board to respond to King in a similar manner.

We are all Vermont!

#ESSA

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