Aug 10, 2011 by

[The Obama administration knows exactly what they are doing; they are stealing the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act process right out of the hands of Congress by injecting these waivers.

The plan by the Obama administration is to force every school in America to follow Common Core Standards/Race to the Top requirements set by the feds. We elect Congressmen; we do not elect those who have been hired at the U. S. Department of Education.  The unelected feds answer to those who appoint them.  Every public school parent should be furious that the Obama administration is moving relentlessly to control what is taught and tested in every school classroom in America.

These state superintendents who are howling about the NCLB requirements right now will really howl when they realize what the Obama administration will require of them —  national standards, national curriculum, national assessments, national teacher evaluation, national database with the huge costs for implementation and administration of these national requirements being shouldered largely by state taxpayers.

Wait until these state superintendents figure out that every move they make in their local schools will be controlled from Washington, D. C.  They will yearn for the good old days when all they had to worry about was NCLB! — Donna Garner]


Obama Administration Exempting Schools From Federal Law’s Testing Mandate

Monday, August 08, 2011

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addresses a summit designed to prevent and punish sexual and gender-based violence in U.S. schools. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(AP) – State and local education officials have been begging the federal government for relief from student testing mandates in the federal No Child Left Behind law, but school starts soon and Congress still hasn’t answered the call.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he will announce a new waiver system Monday to give schools a break.

The plan to offer waivers to all 50 states, as long as they meet other school reform requirements, comes at the request of President Barack Obama, Duncan said. More details on the waivers will come in September, he said.

The goal of the No Child Left Behind law is to have every student proficient in math and reading by 2014. States have been required to bring more students up to the math and reading standards each year, based on tests that usually take place each spring. The step-by-step ramping up of the 9-year-old law has caused heartburn in states and most school districts, because more and more schools are labeled as failures as too few of their students meet testing goals.

Critics say the benchmarks are unrealistic and brands schools as failures even if they make progress. Schools and districts where too few kids pass the tests for several years are subject to sanctions that can include firing teachers or closing the school entirely.

Through the waivers, schools will get some relief from looming deadlines to meet testing goals as long as they agree to embrace other kinds of education reforms such as raising standards, helping teachers and principals improve, and focusing on fixing the lowest performing schools.

Duncan and Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House, said the administration will encourage every state to apply and will work with them to meet the requirements.

Nothing in this plan for temporary relief from some aspects of the federal law will undermine what Congress is still discussing in terms of revising federal education laws, Duncan said. The long-awaited overhaul of the law began earlier this year in the U.S. House, but a comprehensive reform appears far from the finish line.

“What we do in terms of flexibility can be a bridge or transition,” he said. “We all want to fix the law. This might help us get closer to that.”

The chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, however, says he is worried about Duncan’s waiver plan.

“I remain concerned that temporary measures instituted by the department, such as conditional waivers, could undermine the committee’s efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., in a statement, referring to the formal name of the No Child Left Behind law.

The Obama administration requested a revision more than a year ago. Duncan said another school year is about to start and state education officials have told him they can’t keep waiting for relief from the mandates.


“I can’t overemphasize how loudly the outcry is to do something now,” Duncan said.

Duncan has warned that 82 percent of U.S. schools could be labeled failures next year if No Child Left Behind is not changed. Education experts have questioned that estimate, but state officials report a growing number of schools facing sanctions under the law.

Montana Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau said she welcomed the waiver proposal, as long as it offers relief from the 2014 deadline. She said her state isn’t afraid of high standards and education reform but needs enough time to reach those standards and freedom to institute change in a way that works for Montana.

Montana decided to skip a planned increase in its testing goals this past school year.

“I don’t mind the goals and we’re certainly not afraid of accountability. They can set the bar wherever they want. They just have to let us have the flexibility to get there,” Juneau said. “We can definitely meet any bar they throw at us.”

The chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee said he understands why it was time for the administration to take action.

“This Congress faces real challenges reaching bipartisan, bicameral agreement on anything,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, in a written statement. “Given the ill-advised and partisan bills that the House majority has chosen to move, I understand Secretary Duncan’s decision to proceed with a waiver package to provide some interim relief while Congress finishes its work.”

Harkin said he remains committed to keep working toward a bipartisan solution to reform the federal education law.

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