The Associated Press (AP) in The Washington Post reports that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has announced eight more states that have obtained waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has approved waivers for Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Eighteen other states and Washington, D.C., have also applied for waivers and could receive approval in the coming weeks.
“These states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all mandate in order to develop and implement locally-tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,” Duncan said. The waivers are a stopgap measure until Congress rewrites the decade-old law, which has been up for renewal since 2007. Federal lawmakers agree the law needs to be changed, but they have bickered over how to do that.
The states that won waivers earlier this year are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. The ED waivers require states to show they will prepare children for college and careers, set new targets for improving achievement among all students, reward the best performing schools, and focus help on the ones doing the worst.
Republican opponents charge that President Obama is overreaching his authority by granting waivers, and is imposing his vision for education on the states. “This plan does not constitute the long-term reform families, schools, and students need. It’s a temporary Band-Aid on a problem that must be resolved through legislation,” said Representative John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee.
However, states have been asking for relief from the law as the 2014 deadline nears. “The waiver lets New York move away from NCLB requirements that were unproductive or unrealistic,” state Education Commissioner John B. King said. “We’re making a new set of promises to our students. Now we have to live up to those promises.”
Source: The Washington Post, 5/29/12, By AP
[Editor's Note: Although the waivers have been well received by most of the school districts affected, in March 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in The Denver Post, which reported that teachers and parents were questioning whether African-Americans were targeted as Denver Public Schools (DPS) sought to trim teachers and staff in its effort to turn around failing schools. The Editor's Note to that article pointed out that the reforms that DPS was putting in place were part of the quid pro quo Colorado agreed to when its NCLB waiver application was accepted.]