The Alabama state department of education is facing another dilemma. (So what is new?)
As reported here by trade publication, Education Week, this one deals with what to do about the assessment of students and which test to use. The U.S. Department of Education has notified Alabama that they have concerns as to whether or not the currently used ACT Aspire is properly aligned with our standards. In other words, are students being accurately tested on what they have been taught?
At the last state board meeting, superintendent Mike Sentance explained that he had a conference call with Washington officials about the matter and was not encouraged as to the possibility of obtaining a waiver.
(However, it seems that Sentance has not notified the feds in writing as to what Alabama is asking for. And until this is done, technically there has been no request made.)
And as with most anything involving Washington, the matter involves politics as we see from the following comments in the Education Week article:
“Since coming into office, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has talked a lot about the importance of local control, and derided the Obama administration for stepping on states’ authority to design their own K-12 systems.
Now a last-minute request from Alabama—which wants to dump the ACT Aspire assessment and instead use a series of interim tests for accountability next school year—could provide an important test case of the Trump administration’s commitment to the concept of local control.
The state’s superintendent, Michael Sentance, said he’d had a conversation recently with Jason Botel, who is the acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the department, and it was “pretty unsatisfactory. …. It was pretty clear right from the start that the answer was going to be no.”
If the department ultimately rejects Alabama’s request, it will be a signal that—even though local control is a watch-word of the Trump administration—there are some clear limitations to that idea.”
So while Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos likes to tout local control of schools, all signals are that in this instance, this will not be the case.
This is where the politics really gets sticky. We are having a special election this year to see who will be our U.S. Senator to replace Jeff Sessions.
(Governor Bentley appointed his Attorney General Luther Strange to this seat, but now Strange is having to seek this position on his own.)
Of course, any good deep fat-fried Republican from the Heart of Dixie does not believe in Federal over reach and wants the citizens of Alabama to make their own decisions. And with Big Luther trying to show how worthy he is of retaining his appointed seat, does he come to Alabama’s aid in this instance? Or what about one of his challengers, Congressman Mo Brooks from Huntsville? Do he step up to the plate for Alabama?
But since both Strange and Brooks are fervent supporters of President Donald Trump, who appointed DeVos, are they willing to tackle this tar baby? Seems the powers-that-be at the state department of education should solicit their help in this case and rather than listening to another campaign promise of what they will do, let them show us.