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As Long as We Remember...

May 5, 2017

To Enforce The Law or Not?

Cindy A. Rose

Since it’s Common Core (Partnership for Assessments of Readiness for College and Career assessment (PAARCC), testing season, I thought it a good time to update the public on Common Core and where we are since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).


Contrary to what the new Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, is saying publicly, Common Core is still entrenched in over 45 states. Those states that say they have rejected the standards haven’t really; it’s just a talking point to calm the continuing public outcry.


The only thing I find of value within the paragraphs of ESSA is the ability for states to design their own Education Plan. The language of ESSA for crafting our plan does allow us to create our own standards.


However, it would be so expensive no state is going to eagerly put their budgets through the multiple year process at the risk of being turned down. The standards still have to assure the student will be “college and career ready” and the only standards that qualify as of this writing are the Common Core Standards.


The value I find has to do with PARCC Assessments and the dreaded “95% participation rate.” An August 2016 Florida court order siding with parents opened the door for the Maryland State Department of Education and State Board of Education to define what “participation” means.


In the Florida case, parents sued the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) for failing to promote their children because they refused the PARCC Assessments. Florida law requires that 95% of its students “participate” and receive a letter grade in order to advance. Neither Florida, the federal government, nor Maryland define “participation.” FDOE passed students who did poorly in course work and failed the PARCC test, but failed students who exceled in course work but did not take the PARCC test.


The judge in this case, Karen Gievers, sided with the parents, stating these children did “participate.” Each child opened their test book, that’s where their participation ended. Judge Gievers stated that inasmuch as there is no legal definition for “participation,” she has declared these children to have “participated.”


Maryland can do the same.


Once again, children all over Maryland, Frederick included, are being bullied and manipulated into participating because of the 95% participation threat. If a school falls below this, they “risk” the loss of federal funding. No state has been denied federal funding for falling below this rate.


Even so, the Maryland State Department of Education and the State Board of Education can define “participation” as the “offering” of the test and stop worrying about parents refusing. The legal “participation” obligation is met with the offer. End of conflict.


Which brings me to the county and state’s argument that it fears loss of funding if it doesn’t comply with federal law. Inasmuch as Attorney General Brian Frosh has written federal authorities declaring hospital, schools and courts off limits to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), he himself has risked federal funding for violating federal law.


Frederick County has several progressive leaders putting feelers out to have the City of Frederick and Frederick County proclaim sanctuary status.


The question is, why are our elected officials and people in positions of influence ignore the loss of federal funding when it comes to protecting illegal immigrants in our communities but incapable of doing the same for the children within our schools.


Maybe they’ll stand up and protect the students if we remind them many of them are illegal as well?


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