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Leaving Behind No Child Left Behind

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Melody Barnes, director of President Obama’s White House Domestic Policy Council, emphasized that, while all states would be able to apply for waivers regarding NCLB’s accountability, only those seen as instituting “ambitious school improvement initiatives” — such as their own testing and accountability programs — would be granted them. The waivers, she said, are “not a pass on accountability.”

Barnes also said that, with the new school year about to start (and on the verge of starting in some states), “we still believe there is no clear path toward a bipartisan bill to reform “No Child Left Behind.” In Politico, Senator Tom Harkin, the chairman of  the Senate education committee and a Democrat from Iowa, also said that it was “understandable” that Duncan has chosen to pursue the waiver plan as — in a comment that resonates after the debacle over the debt-ceiling negotiations — “it is undeniable that this Congress faces real challenges reaching bipartisan, bicameral agreement on anything.”

The plan, says Duncan, is meant to serve as a “bridge” or a “transition” to further action by Congress and not be a challenge to House Education and Workforce Committee chairman John Kline’s legislation. Kline, a Minnesota Republican, has challenged Duncan’s right to issue waivers in a June letter. His committees has completed three overhaul bills focusing on elimination of federal programs, financial flexibility for states, and charter schools. But the committee has yet to produce bills reforming the law’s provisions for school accountability and teacher effectiveness provisions.

In September, Duncan says a plan will be announced about how to apply for the waivers, says the New York Times:

For a waiver to be approved, they said, states would need to show that they were adopting higher standards under which high school students were “college- and career-ready” at graduation, were working to improve teacher effectiveness and evaluation systems based on student test scores and other measures, were overhauling the lowest-performing schools, and were adopting locally designed school accountability systems to replace No Child’s pass-fail system.

Those requirements match the criteria the administration used last year in picking winning states in its two-stage Race to the Top grant competition.

Critics say that Duncan’s plan is simply another round of Race to the Top. But school officials are likely to support it; some states, including Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, have already applied for waivers — and some schools (Idaho, South Dakota and Montana) have already informed the Education Department that they will ignore parts of the law.

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22 comments

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8:32PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

"No child left behind" sounds great but it hasn't worked from the beginning. It is time to scrape it.

6:57AM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

It's about damn time!

This is just an "everyone's a winner" fairy tale. Not everyone will excel at reading or at math. Some will suck at it. Also special ed kids are expected to do just as well but do they get the supports they need to meet it? Because they are taking the same standardized tests as regular ed kids do.

If we can find a way to encourage each child's strengths rather than create an unattainable goal, we'd do far better. Finland is top in education and they don't do standardized testing.

6:49AM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

100% proficiency in both math and reading by 2014-what a farce! NO generation in any age group at any time could meet such impossible standards! NCLB should have been dealt with LONG ago for a multitude of reasons but never more so than now,for the sake of all those who are diligently working towards success in public education in the presence of such humiliating conditions. Talk about setting people up to fail... NCLB has done just that!!

6:49PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

Lots of children have been left behind. With the current assault on education by the far right, even more children are going to be left behind. Not only will these children suffer, so will the rest of society by disallowing these children to achieve their potential.

5:32PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

As a Tennessean, I don’t believe we should be excused from these National Standards. It is simply embarrassing that our new maverick Governor is asking for an exemption because our state has failed to raise the bar on education. Bill Haslam is passing a slew of laws in our state to infringe on Civil Liberties and First Amendment Rights with the Don’t Say Gay bill and making it Illegal to post offensive images to the internet. As an artist, I was compelled to react to Bill’s railroading of the Constitution and ignorance of standards set forth by our Government. You can see my portrait of our Governor which shows another side of his politics at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/07/potentially-offensive-portrait-governor.html

5:23PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

thanks.

5:22PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

No Child Left Behind SHOULD me left behind....

1:34PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

Another insane scam created by the bush administration to undermine our school systems continued with the full support of Obama a closet republican.

11:33AM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

It would help if we would actually educate children in the form of teaching them to read and think rather than standardizing everything and making them into ignorant consumers. Daniel Quinn says it all about education in his book, "My Ishmael. It would be such an interesting experiment to see what would happen if for about three generations people received a true "education", rather than indoctrination.

11:17AM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

This was a law formulated and passed by politicians. As Ross Perot suggested during his campaign, find a teaching method that is working and duplicate those methods. Politicians are not educators, they need to stay out of the education business other than to encourage and fully fund working education methods.

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