Montana Won’t Seek Waiver from the U.S. Department of Education


Wednesday, December 7, 2011
By Allyson Hagen
406-444-3160

Montana Won’t Seek Waiver from the U.S. Department of Education
Education Leaders Support Juneau's Decision

Helena, MT - Superintendent Denise Juneau today announced the Office of Public Instruction will not be seeking a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education from certain requirements of No Child Left Behind under the ESEA Flexibility Plan in exchange for other reforms.

Stated Superintendent Juneau, "I need to make sure any policy change or reform efforts that Montana engages in make sense for our kids and our schools." She continued, "After careful consideration of the impacts on Montana schools and the financial resources that would be necessary to meet the 'all or nothing' requirements of the waiver, it is clear the strings attached to this option do not make sense for our state."

Juneau spent the past several months seeking input from Montanans regarding the waiver option, including representatives from Montana School Boards Association, School Administrators of Montana, MEA-MFT, Montana Indian Education Association, Montana Board of Public Education, Montana Small Schools Alliance and Montana Rural Education Association. Education leaders joined Superintendent Juneau in expressing their concern that the waiver plan is a replacement program for current NCLB requirements which would cost the state millions to implement.  

"Implementing the policies in these 'all or nothing' waiver requirements when they could quite possibly be overruled by Congressional action would be short-sighted. I will keep advocating for rural states and Montana schools so that any new reforms or funding opportunities don't exclude states like ours. We cannot have yet another education reform effort from DC that doesn't take into account the rural nature of our state and provide the flexibility states need to deliver a quality public education," said Juneau.

Montana will continue to move forward with its current reform efforts: promoting community-based efforts to improve graduation rates; adopting higher standards in English and Math and revising our state test to match those standards; creating a new state accountability system with public education partners; developing an evaluation framework for teachers and school leaders aligned with national professional practice standards; and administrating Montana value-added intensive turnaround efforts at Montana's lowest-performing schools. 

A copy of Superintendent Juneau's letter, signed by local education leaders, can be found here: http://opi.mt.gov/PDF/Supt/Dept_of_Ed/ESEA_Waiver_Decline.pdf

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