Inslee's statement after meeting with Education Secretary Duncan might be less than it seems

While stating optimism, Inslee's suggestion that Legislature needs to act is opposite of earlier position

Staff writerFebruary 24, 2014 

Obama toasts Jay Inslee and Trudi Inslee Sunday evening at the 2014 Governors' Dinner in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters


UPDATE: Gov. Jay Inslee's press office now says he will release his proposal to resolve the No Child Left Behind waiver conflict with the federal government on Tuesday.


Gov. Jay Inslee's private meeting with federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan Sunday was touted as his attempt to get the feds to back off on a demand regarding the state's teacher and principal evaluation system.

Inslee shares a hope among some Democrats and the Washington Education Association that Duncan won't follow through with threats that if the changes aren't made, he will redirect $44 million in federal Title I aid that now goes to high-poverty schools.

First, some background.

Washington state already demands that measures of student growth - usually test results - be a significant factor in evaluations. But it gives districts flexibility in they types of test. To meet a demand made last summer, the state's existing evaluation system would have to use the statewide assessments when they are available as one of the tests used.

The state is trying to keep a waiver from onerous requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law that requires schools make annual progress toward bringing all students up to grade-level performance. Failing to meeting this annual yearly progress has consequences including having to inform parents that their school is failing and offer them transfers and outside tutoring for their children.

The legislation that failed last week in the Senate would not have made the state test scores the only assessments used. It only required that the state results be one of the multiple measures allowed.

Here is what an Inslee spokesperson said about the governor's expectations for the meeting before he left for Washington, D.C. last week:

"The state must reach agreement with the Department of Education or find a legislative path forward to make sure that federal education funds are available for local schools to improve outcomes for more students. "

Read more here.

Here is what Inslee's press office released after his Sunday meeting:

"Our discussion today was productive. I think there's a possibility to develop a positive path forward that has a realistic chance of success. I'll be having conversations with legislators and our Superintendent of Public Instruction about our options and how we can ensure we protect the nearly $40 million that is used by districts to serve struggling students. Time is short this session so I hope we can reach resolution quickly, and I'll have more to say in the coming days."

By saying that he will work with legislators, and by expressing concern about the session ending soon, Inslee suggests that some legislation will be needed to keep the Title I money unencumbered. While the statement is vague, probably on purpose, it gives no indication that Inslee reached that agreement with the Department of Education.





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