The AJC is reporting that Georgia is expected to be liberated today from requirements of No Child Left Behind, the sweeping federal education reform that required all students demonstrate proficiency in math and reading by 2014. Saying that the goal was unrealistic and proposing alternative competency measures, Georgia was among 11 states seeking waivers.
However, I listened to a panel a few weeks ago in which one of the key players in No Child, former Bush education Secretary Margaret Spellings, lamented the waivers as a retreat from our commitment to children and an acquiescence to adults.
Without deadlines for improvement on states, Spellings said the federal government was simply “putting money out there and hoping for the best. We tried for for 40 years and had flat achievement and a growing gap.”
She defended the 2014 deadline for requiring that all students perform at grade-level, saying that it was not unreasonable for parents to expect their children to be able to get the material being taught in their grades. “It is staggering to me — if you went to a school and they told you that they thought they could get your kid on grade level in 12 years, you’d have him out of there before noon.”
According to the AJC:
The first 10 states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The only state that applied for the flexibility and did not get it, New Mexico, is working with the administration to get approval, a White House official told the AP.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the states had not yet been announced. A total of 28 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signaled that they, too, plan to seek waivers — a sign of just how vast the law’s burdens have become as a big deadline nears.
No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Obama’s action strips away that fundamental requirement for those approved for flexibility, provided they offer a viable plan instead. Under the deal, the states must 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.
In September, Obama called President George W. Bush’s most hyped domestic accomplishment an admirable but flawed effort that hurt students instead of helping them. He said action was necessary because Congress failed to update the law despite widespread bipartisan agreement that it needs fixing. Republicans have charged that by granting waivers, Obama was overreaching his authority.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog