Tuesday, January 21, 2014

OOPS, the SDE didn't mean to tell you the truth!

Phil Bacharach, the spokesman for the SDE said to the Tulsa World, "If the school is receiving money for that child, it should be accountable for that child".  BALLGAME! Yep, there it is.  This is damaging for the SDE and in so many ways.  I'm almost giddy just typing it.  It's worth repeating!  “IF THE SCHOOL IS RECEIVING MONEY FOR THAT CHILD, IT SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THAT CHILD.”  I can see Jason Nelson calling the SDE right now and going nuts! I promise ALEC and FEE are on hold somewhere in the labyrinth that is the SDE phone system.  I guess all those private schools accepting the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship will be glad to start testing for Reading Sufficiency according to the RSA act.  Yep, can't wait until they find out all their students who are there because the SDE has paid their tuition will be taking all those EOI exams.  But wait, there is more.  If they take taxpayer money in any form, this means private schools will also be graded with an A-F grade and it be posted on the SDE webpage like the rest of the schools who take taxpayer money.  Does this mean privates will have to test ALL students? SDE, ALEC, & FEE all want school choice don’t they? Shouldn’t taxpayers want to know how the school is doing with the money?  Don’t parents deserve to know if the school is doing what the school is supposed to be doing?  This is awesome.  

What is truly amazing is the previous statement wasn’t the only thing wrong with the spokesman’s comments.  He also said, "the date is now consistent with the date by which state aid is determined".  Well, that is not entirely accurate.  School districts that are experiencing an enrollment that is increasing gets state aid allocated to them based on the AVERAGE number of weighted students on roll for the entire first 9 weeks.  Those that know anything about school business remembers having to fill out, certify, and have their RAO (regional accreditation officer) certify what is called the First Quarter Statistical Report.  The bottom line is the school gets paid based on the AVERAGE number of students enrolled for the ENTIRE first 9 weeks of school! This is completely contrary to the Oct. 1st comment from the SDE.  Since schools get paid based on the percentage of time the student is enrolled in their school, does this mean the schools will only be held to the same percentage of accountability?  Sure, weights such as ELL, Bilingual, Special Ed, are verified by Oct. 1st enrollment. But the school gets paid based on the percentage of time those students have been enrolled and not PAID just because they are on the roll that 1 day.  And the process is even completely different for schools with declining enrollment. Schools with declining enrollment might not have anything do with Oct. 1st as a date for this school year.

Much has been made about the SDE's ability and willingness to change the rules of the accountability game in the middle of the year.  Okeducationtruths, Rob Miller, Jason Bengs, and myself have all written blogs about the absurdity of the SDE and all the rule changes.  But an interesting thing happened yesterday, and I bet the SDE's spokesmen, Phil Bacharach, wishes he hadn't said what he said.  

I'm willing to bet it will not take the SDE too much time to walk back from that statement.  It is bad enough their spokesman doesn't understand state aid payments, or even willing to talk to someone who does understand it, but to go out there and proclaim that accountability to should be required of any school who receives money for a child is just priceless. I want to see them spin this. I'm glad to hear the SDE is in favor of full fledged accountability for all schools who take taxpayer money.  Yep, Jason Nelson, ALEC, and FEE are still on hold.