Superintendent Dorn seeks to deny parents access to school choice and free tutoring

June 30, 2014

In a sternly-worded statement today, the state’s highest public education official, Superintendent Randy Dorn, announced he is seeking to keep parents from learning about school choice and free tutoring services to which their children may be entitled under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Earlier in June, Superintendent Dorn wrote to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asking that he be allowed not to send a required letter to parents informing them of their rights under federal law.  The notice, called the Public School Choice Letter, must be sent to all parents whose children attend schools that have failed to show steady education progress since 2002, according to federal standards.

Parents who received the letter may be eligible for additional education services, such as choosing an alternative school, receiving free transportation and access to free tutoring services for their children.  The letters are scheduled to be sent to parents in August, at least two weeks before children return to school this year.

Superintendent Dorn told Secretary Duncan he doesn’t think it would serve any useful purpose to tell parents about their rights under the law.  “I asked if [school] districts could get out of this requirement,” Dorn said.

He said he is concerned about the paperwork burden that would be created for administrators in Washington’s 295 school districts by having to give information to parents.  “If districts don’t have to send the letters to parents, that’s at least one less burden on them,” he said.

He described sending a letter to parents as “punitive,” because it would inform families of how poorly some local public schools are serving children, which he fears would hurt the image of public education.

The Superintendent also said parents should not be informed because “nearly every school will not meet the measure...”  The Superintendent’s downbeat assessment does not include Washington’s many private schools, which educate about 100,000 children annually.

The federal standard, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), calls for parents to be notified of how well local public schools are providing students with a basic knowledge of reading and math, helping them prepare for success in college and for a lifetime of learning.  

Superintendent Dorn’s harsh reasoning is that, since most public schools in Washington will not meet the federal standard, there’s no point in telling parents about how to access alternative education services for their children.


Perhaps we need to set off a big LIV FINNE firework on OSPI Dorn

No seriously.

This is just beyond the pale how OSPI Dorn thinks he is hired by the educational industrial complex, represents only the educational industrial complex and serves the educational industrial complex.

What happened to representing We The People?


You Know Better

I know you understand the issue; it is not that Supt. Dorn is denying kids access to better schools; it is that NCLB has reach the ridiculous stage where essentially all schools are "failing", which is no more meaningful than labeling all schools "successful". The law should be changed, and may had been if the DoE hadn't found the waiver process to be a convenient way to legislate from the executive branch. It is clear you don't like Supt. Dorn's work, but at least be intellectually honest about the issues.


Sorry, but it is you that does not understand the issue. Dorn is attempting to flagrantly violate federal law -- a law on a grant program that HE, as the "state" promised to comply with in return for federal dollars.

Reality of SES

So here is reality in the Tri-Cities: the letters go out and kids cannot change schools because they are all over their enrollment limits. Then the SES provider receives a mandated $42.50 to $62.50 per hour per student to provide tutoring...and they hire the para educators from the district for $13.00 per hour, to serve multiple kids. In on hour if ten kids showed, the 'provider' made $425.00 and covered the para cost with about $35.00 (including payroll tax, etc.) At my elementary school, we had to dratiscally reduce the number of kids in the after school program, and they 'provider' used the same curriculum materials that the district used. So, under this NCLB set-up, 15 kids were served by two paras until $23,000 ran out (10% of the schools Title I budget). The Principal told me that using the same dollars, they could have served 50 kids with 7 para educators in the same time frame. Many of the SES providers were walked around the poor neighborhood of our district and signed up kids...only to be rejected for being unethical by the state. NCLB is a disgrace, and why Ms. Finne trupets this model is beside me. Three different state tests in five years, and now food in the schools that most kids won't who is messing up our kids...I don't think your local teacher or school board.

Well here's the thing about SES

WHY would the Feds want school districts to provide the SES if the school district is the same entity failing the kids in the first place? Grumble all we want about the high hourly rate of private supplemental educational services, but the here are two facts:

1) NOTHING prevents the school district from entering into a contract with a private SES provider (such as Sylvan, Kumon or an individual tutor) that gives the District a bulk discount; and

2) The law is designed to help INDIVIDUAL KIDS to get the services to be brought up to standard -- NOT to help out the school district.

Remember: If the school district were doing its job, the kiddos would be meeting standard. Offering parents more of the same failed methods through the school district is NOT the answer. Thankfully, the Feds at least understand THAT. Again, Title 1 is designed to help disadvantaged kids, NOT self-proclaimed "disadvantaged" school districts.

And let's not forget the most obvious question: If the school districts' SES services are so damn great and cost-effective as your principal would have you believe, then why the hell aren't they using these SES methods with the kids to begin with? Don't believe the schools' BS.