7/27/2006

ED Loosens Tutoring Requirements, Abandons Choice -- This Is Getting Tough?

Perhaps the most interesting part of Ben Feller's AP piece is that it tries to describe ED's newly-expanded tutoring waiver and SES "flip" with "get-tough" actions on other fronts:

"The policy changes are part of a pattern of enforcement by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings," writes Feller (Education Department Expands Tutoring). "She wants to show she can adapt -waiving rules to get more kids in tutoring- and yet be tough on states that do not comply, by threatening to pull their money."

I'm just not sure the connection is there -- I see only a loosening of requirements. Where's the "get tough" in that? Just as importantly, Feller fails to note that Spellings may be further diminishing NCLB choice with her move. He asserts that parents "prefer" tutoring over transfers, which isn't necessarily the case and sounds a lot like ED-speak. Some parents may prefer tutoring in some cases, but the fact that six times as many students were tutored is more the result of the relative logistical ease for districts of providing tutoring compared to transfers, weaknesses in the law's transfer requirements, and lax enforcement on the part of the USDE even now. When, exactly, is Spellings going to get tough on the choice provision?

You can see the USDE's press release here and the letters to individual districts (Anchorage, Memphis, Chicago, and Boston) and states (Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia) here.

UPDATE: Eduwonk agrees that this isn't toughening, and that choice is getting left out.

UPDATE 2: The AFT blog is underwhelmed by the flexibility and suspects that ED is simply working the press to get (even more) positive coverage.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michele at AFT said...

Alexander,

You write:

"but the fact that six times as many students were tutored is more the result of the relative logistical ease for districts of providing tutoring compared to transfers"

How do you know that this is the case? Where is the evidence?

Michele at AFT

9:26 AM  
Blogger Alexander Russo said...

is the AFT against the enforcement of NCLB choice? that's what it sounds like.

my point is that neither Feller nor the USDE really knows why there's more tutoring than transfers, and that there are a lot of other factors besides preference at work. there's been a lot of press and report findings suggesting that at least some parents want choice but have trouble accessing it.

10:46 AM  

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