Oklahoma Drama Full of Sound and Fury but ends in a whimper

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

One bit of 2014 business to address: Oklahoma got their NCLB waiver back after their universities certified their previous standards and tests (which compared relatively well to NAEP) as college and career ready. Note that the story includes the nugget that 40% of Oklahoma college students require remedial education despite those highly thought of standards and tests. Paging Dr. Loveless, Dr. Hanushek! It’s possible that it would have been even worse without good standards and tests but to borrow a line from Sol Stern, good standards and tests are not enough.

On the process issue conditional waivers exceed the authority of the United States Secretary of Education and constitute a piece in a larger mosaic of an attempt to rule by administrative fiat. Unlike the Hotel California, however, you can both check out and leave the CC either without penalty (Oklahoma) after jumping through a hoop. Alternatively states can call Secretary Duncan’s bluff and simply drop their NCLB waiver because the consequences just aren’t that big of a deal (Washington- still no waiver riots on the streets of Seattle). It might at some point occur to someone in Washington or some future waiver-dropping state to file suit over conditional waivers.

It appears that the Secretary has been bluffing with a weak waiver hand, smiling to himself as states all-too-eagerly fold. States wishing to leave the CC however should give some thought as to what they would like to get out of their state testing system rather than adopting a “shoot-ready-aim” approach. My Little Pony connect-a-dot tests may not merit the approval of state university systems, and unlike Oklahoma not all states have decent systems to fall back on. The exit door however is clearly open.










3 Responses to Oklahoma Drama Full of Sound and Fury but ends in a whimper

  1. Greg Forster says:

    I have this mental image of the streets of downtown Seattle at noon, teeming with hipsters sipping their lattes from Anyplace But Starbucks (Seattle’s most popular coffee for thirty years running), when out of nowhere someone yells “WAIVER RIOT!!!!!!!!!!” and all hell breaks loose. The National Guard is finally brought in to restore order, but not before half the downtown succumbs to wonton property destruction.

    The next day, the mayor announces that the city’s $15 minimum wage makes rebuilding cost-prohibitive, so the city is being permanently abandoned.

    A year later, the abandoned buildings are reclaimed by squatters. On inspection, they are revealed to be enterprising Texans who saw unused assets and couldn’t refrain from repurposing them.

    Five years later, the city is declared a Texas protectorate, with a cut of local taxes going to Washington State as compensation. Ten years later, twelve major American cities, including Chicago and large parts of Los Angeles, have followed suit.

    In 2034, the United States of Texas is formally incorporated. It outperforms the rest of the world economy by a wide margin.

    (Okay, this comment escalated unexpectedly.)

  2. matthewladner says:

    I like your thinking on this. President Lamar (the second President of the Republic of Texas) also had a vision of Texas stretching all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

  3. Greg Forster says:

    Alternatively, the other 49 states could recover their entrepreneurial spirit without being colonized and repopulated first.

    Which is the more outlandish fantasy?

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