Tukwila, a city of 19,000, is arguably one of the most diverse.

This community represents every... corner of the globe, said Dr. Nancy Coogan, Superintendent of the Tukwila School District.

She says she strives to leave no child behind in a challenging environment, full of students living in poverty or using English as a second language.

For me to say every student has to hit the same bar at the same time, just not an equitable playing field at all, she said.

That's why she led a group of 28 superintendents to sign a document expressing their outrage over a federal mandate.

Parents in her district - along with dozens of others - will receive notice that their school has received a failing grade.

I can guarantee we're not a failing district, said Coogan.

It's the complicated response to a clause in the no child left behind act and the U.S. Department of Education's requirement that teachers be evaluated by student performance.

The state balked at the proposal last year.

They've got an unfunded mandate, Betina George, who has a fourth grader in the district.

She defends Tukwila's stance.

They're judging the performance of these students - as if they're testing scores have more to do with the dedication of the teachers, or the curriculum but I don't think that's necessarily the case.

Coogan says the new classification also has financial implications. The small district is now forced to re-allocate $360,000.

It's Sophies Choice - what am I going to make a decision on - who is it going to serve, what is that going to look like right, rather than have control of the money, she said.

In the past, states have received a waiver to meet certain educational requirements, and avoided this classification.

Carla Santorno, Tacoma SD Superintendent, said the new designation costs them a significant amount, in order to continue funding pre school programs.

It costs us money - it costs $1.8 million ... we had put that money into preschools - fully funded - paid for additional teachers, paid for additional programs, she said.

She said the district will have to dip into the general fund, local levies, and state funding in order to keep the program alive. The flip side is that it means jobs will not be filled, or other programs will remain unfunded.

Nathan Olson, spokesperson for OSPI, said The Superintendent (Randy Dorn) has been pretty clear the letter doesn t accomplish anything. One metric that the Federal Government uses, should not be the only measure of a school. There have been significant success stories.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education, Dorie Nolt, told KING 5, We recognize that it is challenging to revert from flexibility back to the requirements of the prescriptive, one-size-fits-all mandates of the No Child Left Behind law. Flexibility has allowed states to move beyond federal law, to be more innovative, and to engage in continued improvement in ways that benefit educators and students, which is why the Governor and state Superintendent, as well as other leaders in Washington, made such an effort to retain that flexibility. We will continue to work with state leaders through this transition to help Washington preserve the gains it has made under the last two years of flexibility from the law.

Read or Share this story: