8/9/11 States to get No Child waivers

States to get No Child waivers
The Associated Press  The Times-News 8/9/11     
Reprinted with permission.

 The Obama administration effectively gutted the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law Monday, giving states a way out of a decadelong policy that focused on holding schools accountable but labeled many of them failures even if they made progress.

 To get a waiver from the program, however, states must agree to host of education reforms the White House favors — from tougher evaluation systems for teachers and principals to programs tackling the achievement gap for minority students.

 The federal law, which requires every student to be proficient in science and math by 2014, is four years past due for reauthorization.

 But it’s become mired in the increasingly bipartisan mood on Capitol Hill despite repeated calls from President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan for changes to be made before the school year starts. Obama sent an overhaul proposal to Congress 16 months ago.

 Duncan has warned that 82 percent of U.S. schools could be labeled failures next year if the law is not changed. Education experts have questioned that estimate, but state officials report a growing number of schools facing sanctions under the law — from having to offer free tutoring to being forced to shut down entirely.

 Tired of waiting for Congress to act, Obama has told Duncan to move forward with waivers, said Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council for the White House.

 “We have a federal law that’s an impediment, that’s getting in the way as a disincentive for the great work states are doing,” Duncan said in a call with reporters Monday afternoon.

 “That just doesn’t make sense at a time when we have to get better faster than ever before.”

 Republicans bristled at the move.

 “I share the sense of urgency felt by state and local education officials across the nation. Unfortunately, more questions than answers surround the secretary’s waivers proposal,” said House education committee chairman John Kline of Minnesota.