Discussions Continue in Utah

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It's anyone's guess what will happen out West after Utah Governor Jon Huntsman?s March 15th meeting with Secretary Margaret Spellings to discuss Utah's objections to NCLB. Utah is optimistic that, hot on the heels of US ED's February 23rd decision allowing 8,500 elementary teachers to be considered HQT while technically not HQT, the feds will strike a similar pose with regard to Utah's special education teachers and on accountability testing. Specifically, Utah wants to use its own "HQT" definition for its special education teachers and its home-grown accountability testing system, named U-PASS.

While the talks have been cordial, the feds don't look like they are ready to make any more major concessions. As a result, Utah officials are threatening to strike down NCLB if the issues are not resolved by April 20th, when a special legislative session would be held to pass HB 135, a bill that would opt the Beehive State out of NCLB and $240 million in federal funds.

In related news but perhaps we're the only ones who see it that way, Utah's legislature House and Senate are considering a bill that will grant private school vouchers to parents of students with disabilities so that they can opt out of public school special ed programs.