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August 9, 2011

Arne Duncan moves to give states NCLB waivers

Congress couldn't really have thought that 100 percent of students would be reading and doing math on grade level in 2014, but that is what No Child Left Behind expects from all schools by then.

The goal seemed fine in 2002 when it was more than a decade away, but now it is 2011 and in Maryland alone 44 percent of elementary and middle schools didn't live up to NCLB standards last year. That is a lower percentage than some states with higher standards than Maryland. In Tennessee, for instance, only about two thirds of students are failing state tests.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan thinks it is time to act so that tougher and tougher sanctions aren't applied to schools that don't need to be reinvented. So yesterday, he signaled for the second time this summer that he is going to take action. In mid-September he said he will give states the details on how to apply for a waiver.  Maryland, appears to be poised to satisfy all of the criteria for getting a waiver because it has adopted the common core standards, is revamping its teacher evaluation system, among other actions.

Ed Week is reporting that states that get the waivers will be able to reset the pass rates that are needed to make AYP. Whether we will go back several years or just stay where we are in terms of how many students need to pass the state tests for a school to meet AYP is not clear. The following year (2012-2013), USDE may take away requirements that students in failing schools get free tutoring or are allowed to transfer to another school in the district that isn't considered a failing school.

While some members of Congress had questioned whether Duncan's has the authority to unilaterially put aside portions of the law, few voices registered much complaint yesterday. The Duncan announcement came after Congress had nearly failed to deal with the debt ceiling and no one was under any illusion that it could reauthorize NCLB in the next year.

I would be interested to hear from principals, teachers and parents about how they feel about the waivers. I suspect principals and teachers are about to give a collective sigh of relief. One of the questions I would liked to have asked is what happens when Congress finally gets around to reauthorizing NCLB in two or so years? What if the new law has vastly different priorities than the Duncan era direction? Won't that produce a lot of whip lash?

Posted by Liz Bowie at 12:17 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Around the Nation
        

Comments

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

We can go to Space and we can't create a free Educational System that works for all students? Why is that? It isn't rocket science. It needs to be State Mandated rules for all schools. First and foremost, All schools will have small class sizes, mandatory Early education, and Highly qualified Teachers. Why are we sweeping Education under the carpet, we can fund wars and not fund futures? Something is wrong with this picture! We need Teachers that are willing to unite and change the face of Education. The teachers have been in the trenches and KNOW what the issues are that face our inner city students, we can do it. The powers in charge even Arne have no Educational background. The Unions are letting us down, and WE are the blame for failure. We need to begin our own organization, we have Master's Degrees etc. We are Professionals. We can show these people that are making decisions that affect our students and us, the way things need to be done! Who is with me?

In any other arena, the idea of reaching 100% success would be considered laughable. By 2014 all sick people will be well. By 2014 all unemployed people will be hired gainfully. By 2014 all the bad news will be replaced by glad tidings. I am a teacher and I can tell you that more than eight years ago we knew this day would come. It simply isn't possible for every child to meet standard unless the standards are so watered down as to be meaningless. Any teacher worth putting into a classroom knows that education is a never ending quest. It is not "a race to the top" because there is no "top". Children will enter our schools year after year so long as we are here. It's time to get on with the journey of living, learning, and aspiring. Let the failed plans of the past be remembered only as reminder of where have already tried and moved on. My prediction is that all fifty states will accept the waivers in their own politically expedient time table. We are indeed all having a collective moment of relief.

In any other arena, the idea of reaching 100% success would be considered laughable. By 2014 all sick people will be well. By 2014 all unemployed people will be hired gainfully. By 2014 all the bad news will be replaced by glad tidings. I am a teacher and I can tell you that more than eight years ago we knew this day would come. It simply isn't possible for every child to meet standard unless the standards are so watered down as to be meaningless. Any teacher worth putting into a classroom knows that education is a never ending quest. It is not "a race to the top" because there is no "top". Children will enter our schools year after year so long as we are here. It's time to get on with the journey of living, learning, and aspiring. Let the failed plans of the past be remembered only as reminder of where have already tried and moved on. My prediction is that all fifty states will accept the waivers in their own politically expedient time table. We are indeed all having a collective moment of relief.

Teachers have students on average for 180 days, 7 hours a day. We can't do it all. More time is spent recording data and recording more data. The test does not track a child's grade level performance. Does anyone remember the California Achievement Test or the Iowa? Our parents received a grade equivalent score each year after we took the test. We were not drilled on the test.
We want to compare the U.S. to European and Asian countries and their education system. We stand along with the volume of tests that we administer year after year beginning with our youngest children and we continue to fall
behind. Schools ARE NOT THE PROBLEM! From the Superintendents down, educators are working and working hard. Again schools are not the problem!

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