Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 21, 2017

Student success act and properly filing a complaint or concern

By Mike Jorgensen
Mike Jorgensen

I am going to discuss two unrelated topics in this article.   First of all, I am going to inform you all of what is happening on the Federal Level in terms of the No Child Left Behind legislation.   On Friday, July 19, 2013, the Student Success Act passed the House, but is not anticipated to pass the Senate and President Obama has threatened to veto this legislation as well.  What is the Student Success Act and what is the future of No Child Left Behind?   The second area I want to address is the proper way to raise an issue or to file a complaint to the superintendent of schools.   For those of you who have done so anonymously, you are probably pretty disappointed in the results.  

Student Success Act
A bill replacing the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in the House on a 221-207 vote on July 19.   The bill received no support from the Democrats and even a few Republicans voted no.  President Obama said he would veto the bill if it found its way onto his desk, though it is anticipated to not pass the Democratically led Senate.  This bill returns the control over curriculum standards, testing and spending on education to states and districts.
Both parties agree that No Child Left Behind is in need of revision.  Technically, the law expired in 2007, but neither side has been able to come into agreement in how to replace it.   This bill requires 100 percent proficiency of students in reading and math in 2014. Thirty-nine states have already received a waiver from participation in this law from the Federal Department of Education, leaving Iowa as one of the unfortunate few who has not received this waiver.
It is anticipated that the Senate will be offering its own version of a bill to counter the Student Success Act.  The biggest issues between the two parties is in the accountability to report scores and in addressing the gap between minority and  civil rights protections.
The Washington Community School District is affected by this legislation.  With a 100 percent proficiency required in 2014, it is just a matter of time before most every district in the state will also fall short.   Washington’s issues have centered around the subgroups of Special Education and Limited English Speaking Students.   Those districts that don’t have to report these sub-groups due to not having 30 or more students in those subgroups are a little slower in getting caught up in falling short of the requirements.   
It doesn’t make much sense to me to have a law that only 11 states have to follow.   Most everyone recognizes that the criteria and penalties associated with No Child Left Behind are unacceptable and unachievable.    The fact that Republicans and Democrats cannot come to some sort of agreement is not a good reason to hold school districts to standards that are unrealistic.  Let’s hope they get something passed soon or that the state Iowa is given a waiver.  I would appreciate if a number of patrons expressed a concern to our members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senators that this is unacceptable in Iowa.

Appropriate ways to file a complaint
A couple of times a month, I will receive a note or e-mail that comes from an anonymous source complaining  or expressing a concern about something.   Usually it will be signed something along the lines of “a concerned tax payer.”  These notes are deleted or disposed of if they do not have a name signed to them.  I will not spend time trying to deal with an issue that someone cannot at least put a name to.  I consider that a very cowardly way to file a complaint and refuse to reward that method of expressing a complaint or concern.
Legitimate complaints and issues that are brought forth to me by parents, patrons or students are investigated and responded to in a reasonable period of time and in a way that it is held with the appropriate confidentiality.  Complaints need to be handled through the appropriate chain of command.   For example, a complaint that involves a situation within a school building should go through either the teacher responsible or building principal first.   If the issue is not resolved on that level, then the superintendent will be consulted or will serve as the mediator to the situation.   In the situations where the proper chain of command has not been followed, I will refer the complaint to the appropriate level.  Complaints given to school board members should be handled in the same way.  We are more than happy in looking into your questions or concerns as long as it is handled in a professional manner.
These are the professional practices of a professional business and are the professional standards that this office will follow.   Anonymous complaints or inquiries will receive the appropriate attention they deserve, a delete button or filed in the round trash barrel.   If the issue is important enough that it raises a concern, then a signature and contact information should be included.   Thanks for your handling of matters on a professional basis.