NCLB Waivers Highlight Lack of Progress in ESEA Reauthorization

Now that ESEA Reauthorization appears unlikely by September, if at all this in this Congressional Session, President Obama has asked Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to move ahead with NCLB waivers for states that “agree to adopt a prescribed set of education reforms.” That list of reforms will not be announced until September, but Chairman John Kline (R-MN) of the House Education and the Workforce Committee is already calling this effort a “backdoor reform education agenda.”

The Obama Administration says that governors are asking for relief from legislation that is “loose on the goals but tight on the means…forcing states into one-size-fits-all solutions that just don’t work.” While not releasing states from accountability, the goal is to provide schools with relief by giving them more flexibility in how they implement the law.

Chairman Kline says these waivers, though, will undermine the work of Congress. The House has already passed three bills related to lowering barriers, promoting innovation, and advancing excellence in the classroom and plans to propose two more related to teacher effectiveness and accountability. In Kline’s opinion, the waivers are a way to push the Administration’s education goals without having to go through the Congressional process.

“Secretary of Education Arne Duncan continues to push forward an ill-conceived plan to offer states and school districts waivers in exchange for reforms rooted not in the law but in the secretary’s own education agenda,” said a statement on the House Education and the Workforce Committee website.

More information

“Providing Our Schools Relief from No Child Left Behind”
The White House Blog

“Top 5 Questions About NCLB Flexibility” Blog

“Obama Administration Presses Forward with Backdoor Education Reform Agenda”
House Education and the Workforce Committee

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August 2011


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