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Kirsten Baesler, Mandan, N.D., Published September 01 2012

Letter: Waiver mandates won’t help state with No Child Left Behind

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction held an Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization Planning Committee meeting Aug. 15 in Bismarck to discuss whether North Dakota should apply for a waiver from No Child Left Behind from the U.S. Department of Education.

I was pleased to take part in this discussion but am frustrated at the continued attempt by the Department of Education to impose its federal educational agenda on North Dakota schools, this time through a waiver process. I want relief from the flawed NCLB as much as anyone else, but the new mandates imposed by the waiver requirements are not relief. The waiver simply exchanges one set of bad rules and punishment for another set of bad rules and punishment.

One requirement of the waiver is the establishment of teacher and principal evaluation guidelines. Although a strong majority of the educational leaders present agreed that effective evaluations of principals and teachers are good for our kids, North Dakota doesn’t need Washington breathing down our neck to do the right thing. Strong leadership in the DPI can ensure school districts implement a North Dakota evaluation plan to ensure good practices of education, leadership and accountability are occurring every year for every superintendent, principal and teacher.

The DPI needs to protect North Dakota schools from the long and meddlesome arm of Washington in the least restrictive manner possible and become a supportive resource for our schools. No one cares more about North Dakota’s students than North Dakotans, and it’s time we get Washington out of the way.

Baesler is a candidate for superintendent of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.