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ACE in all its glory

May 11, 2012

The state superintendent today felt the need to set the record straight on the implications of the Achieving Classroom Excellence (ACE) law, which is now fully implemented seven years after being written. She concludes her piece by extolling the “mettle” of this state when it comes to implementing reforms.

She speaks of all the fail-safes written into the laws, but what she fails to speak of is the inclusive and transparent process by which this sweeping change was implemented. You would think that someone who was a chair of the ACE Task Force would remember that.

But those were the good old days – the days when reform meant playing well with others…the days before she had her own state agency and the ability to replace the existing professional staff with her campaign staff.

For the record, I think that during the seven year span between the state adopting the ACE graduation requirements and this year’s senior class being subjected to them, both the Garrett and Barresi administrations have done a good job of helping school districts understand the options that were available to students. As unintended consequences have arisen, adjustments have been made to ensure the success of the reforms.

That’s what you can do when (a) you collaborate; (b) take your time; and (c) listen to stakeholder input. Sadly, none of these strategies have been employed with the whirlwind of reforms that have been enacted since the 2010 elections. Measures have been rushed through the legislature with shell language giving the SDE sweeping, unchecked powers. They have been enacted with emergency provisions (in violation of the state constitution). Rules for them have been written in seclusion by staff with a limited base of experience in public schools. And opposition to them has predictably been met with disdain and name-calling.

Those who oppose the reformers are said to oppose change. Something different is true. We oppose poorly-conceived change.

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