A compelling or distracting NCLB waiver?

August 6, 2013

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s approval of the CORE districts’ waiver from unattainable provisions of the No Child Left Behind law, exposed some old and some new internecine disputes in California education.

Duncan called it the “right thing to do” for the 1 million students enrolled in the eight districts. Others used different words.

Among policymakers and advocates who commented on the decision, EdSource Today found common themes among differences of opinion.

U.S. Rep. George Miller:  The senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, was an architect of No Child Left Behind, but has since acknowledged its flaws and reproached Congress for not fixing through reauthorization.

The approval of the CORE waiver application will provide the opportunity for more than a million students in California to break away from the most rigid requirements of NCLB that do little to ensure that all children are learning… and I believe this action will provide the whole state an exciting opportunity to pilot new reforms and learn from some of the leading districts in California and the nation.”

U.S. Rep. John Kline: The Minnesota Republican chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

“As if state waivers weren’t convoluted enough, the administration has now decided to move forward with district-level waivers. One can only imagine the confusion this creates for families, teachers and state and local education leaders.”

Dean Vogel, president, California Teachers Association: Vogel called the waiver “counterproductive and divisive” at a time when California schools need to be working together to implement Common Core State Standards and the Local Control Funding Formula, and he criticized CORE for leaving teachers out of the discussions.

“By approving this waiver, Secretary Duncan once again demonstrates how his rhetoric that educators be actively involved in education change is just that—rhetoric. Not one of the local teachers’ associations in the eight school districts was included in the discussion or signed the waiver application.

Dennis Kelly, president, United Educators of San Francisco:

“Nobody’s a fan of NCLB. I don’t think this is the answer. This provides a huge distraction when districts should develop Common Core, understand inclusion of special education students, and LCFF. There are huge things facing school districts right now and this is a distraction.”

Julie White, assistant executive director, the Association of California School Administrators:

“[The waiver is a] monumental first step toward the long-overdue transformation of or public schools… This is an unprecedented opportunity to relieve committed, reform-minded local school districts from the constraints and wasteful spending under NCLB, and we will continue our efforts to include other districts in the waiver… ACSA is urging lawmakers to keep the door open for reform-minded districts to meet the same accountability provisions outlined in the final proposal.”



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