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California Office to Reform Education District Wai

California Department of Education (CDE) Seal
California State Board of Education (SBE) Seal
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
TOM TORLAKSON,
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
916-319-0800
CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
MICHAEL W. KIRST,
President
916-319-0827
1430 N Street Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

March 22, 2013

Deborah S. Delisle, Assistant Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202

Dear Assistant Secretary Delisle:

We received your letter dated February 28, 2013, seeking comment from the California State Board of Education (SBE) on the request for a district-level waiver of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) submitted by nine California districts, organized as a consortium called the California Office to Reform Education (CORE). At its March 14, 2013, meeting, the SBE authorized us, SBE President Michael Kirst and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, to submit comments on its behalf regarding CORE’s waiver request.

Over the last year, we have heard from numerous districts about the need for relief from the onerous provisions of ESEA.  There is no doubt that ESEA is a failed concept and,  while we would prefer that the law be reauthorized, absent such action by Congress we are supportive of any attempt that will grant California’s local educational agencies (LEAs) the relief they need.  While the CORE waiver presents one opportunity for relief; we heard at the March SBE meeting that superintendents from the CORE districts and other districts would prefer a state-level waiver rather than multiple LEA waivers. With this in mind, we will continue to work with your staff to explore options for granting all California LEAs relief from ESEA.

At the March SBE meeting, Board members expressed enthusiasm for the CORE districts’ efforts to design an innovative waiver request based on agreements they hope to make at the local level. As you consider the CORE waiver request, we urge you to continue to work with our staff to address the questions and issues listed below:

  • If local waivers are approved, will the state monitor implementation and hold districts accountable or will the U.S. Department of Education perform this role?  If the state is responsible for monitoring:

    • How will the federal Student Achievement and School Accountability program monitoring system accommodate dual or multiple systems of accountability in a state’s approved Accountability Workbook?

    • Is the state expected to change its expectations under the approved Consolidated Application Reporting System and/or the Federal Program Monitoring Process for school districts with approved local waivers?

    These issues and others will need to be resolved to ensure that district waivers do not conflict with the authority and responsibilities of the California state government.

  • Will other districts have the opportunity to apply for a flexibility waiver of their own that differs from CORE’s, provided it meets a high bar of quality?  Will school districts need to be part of a consortium to be eligible to apply for a waiver?

  • What process and criteria will be used for approving the CORE waiver request? Will approval automatically be extended to any school district that signs an MOU?

For further discussion of these matters or others related to the CORE waiver or flexibility from ESEA, please contact Karen Stapf Walters, Executive Director, State Board of Education by phone at 916-319-0699 or by email at kstapfwalters@cde.ca.gov, and/or Deborah V.H. Sigman, Deputy Superintendent, District, School, and Innovation Branch, by phone at 916-319-0812 or by e-mail at dsigman@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

TOM TORLAKSON
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education


MICHAEL W. KIRST
President
California State Board of Education

TT/TM:

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