The eight districts that have formed the nonprofit organization California Office to Reform Education, or CORE, are preparing their own application for a waiver from the penalties of the No Child Left Behind law, undeterred by the federal government’s rejection last month of a waiver for California. They’re hoping that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be impressed by their size, serving a million schoolchildren, and their willingness to agree to conditions that Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Board of Education rejected.
Two unknowns lurk: Duncan hasn’t yet agreed to consider district waivers in states that either didn’t apply for them or had their applications turned down, and CORE hasn’t yet formally asked Brown for his blessing, which would considerably help their case. Regardless, at some point in the next month or so the districts plan to file anyway, because they want the waiver to take effect July 1, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy confirmed Monday.
Brown and the State Board balked at the stipulation that the state require districts to use standardized test scores as a measure of student academic growth when evaluating teachers. CORE districts would have to agree to this – or finesse the condition – to get a waiver.
A waiver would free up tens of millions of dollars in restricted Title I money that the districts could use to train teachers and prepare for the implementation of Common Core standards. Schools in the districts would no longer have to notify families that their schools were failing under the terms of No Child Left Behind.
The CORE districts include Los Angeles, Long Beach, Fresno, Sacramento City, San Francisco, Oakland, Clovis and Sanger unified districts.