Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is blaming state lawmakers today for the U.S. Department of Education's decision to deny the state its request for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind federal education standards.
Iowa applied for a waiver from the education requirements in February but warned at the time that the application would be withdrawn if state lawmakers did not make significant changes to the state's education system. Gov. Branstad today laid blame for the waiver denial "squarely at the feet" of legislators.
"Responsibility for the denial of this request lies squarely at the feet of the Iowa Legislature, which did too little to improve our schools," the governor said. "The education reform plan Lt. Gov. Reynolds and I proposed would have ensured a waiver from the onerous federal No Child Left Behind law. Lawmakers, instead, chose to delay updating the educator evaluation system by requiring a task force to study the issue and make recommendations for consideration by the 2013 Legislature."
Branstad noted that the U.S. Department of Education has left the door open to approve Iowa's request for flexibility from the requirements of the law should lawmakers pass education reform that allows the Iowa Department of Education the authority it needs to update evaluations.
"Iowa has slipped to the middle of the pack in education in part because we did not adopt the same rigorous policies as other states receiving the waiver," Branstad said. "This reflects poorly on Iowa, and on our students deserve better."
Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass said today's denial means Iowa school districts will continue to be tied to unrealistic federals standards and then penalizes districts for failing to meet requirements.
"This was a missed opportunity for Iowa's school to find relief from a law that holds them unrealistic measures and then blames them for failure," Glass said.
Glass, too, blamed state lawmakers for failing to pass educational reform legislation.
"We made it clear to the Legislature in committee meetings that the Iowa Department of Education needed statutory authority to move forward on implementing a waiver-compliant education system," he said. "The Legislature did not follow through."
Specifically, the department requested the authority to develop frameworks for teacher and principal evaluations that differentiate performance unsing three levels and reflect multiple measures, including data on student growth.
That lack of authority, Glass said, was cited by federal education officials in its letter today denying Iowa's request for a waiver.