Waiving the white flag

No Child Left Behind waivers are “a white flag for the kind of systemic reform needed to help all students, including poor and minority children, succeed in school and in life, writes RiShawn Biddle.

No Child Left Behind gave schools 12 years to improve, writes Steve Perry, a magnet school principal, also on Biddle’s Dropout Nation.

An entire generation to fix schools is too long, and now the president is going to extend it? Brilliant. Just freaking brilliant. Here’s a timeline tweak: Take as long as you want to fix your school. But the American people are only going to send our hundreds of millions of dollars to good schools. So holla when you feel you’re ready, in the meantime while you do your educations reforming, we’re going to make sure our kids go to good schools tomorrow.

Obama’s plan trades accountability for common standards, writes Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution.

Standards and accountability go together like Sonny and Cher. Separate them and, well you know what happens. So we’re to have the same college- and career-ready standards for what children should learn in Minnesota and Mississippi, but different definitions of what schools and teachers are to be held accountable for accomplishing against those standards? Where does that get us?

In addition, it’s dangerous to take “boilerplate secretarial waiver authority” intended for minor tweaks and turn it into “a virtually limitless authority for the executive branch to substitute its preferred policies for the law of the land.”

The federal role in K-12 education isn’t working well and needs major restructuring, Whitehurst argues. While Congress is working on this, the administration could buy time by moving the proficiency deadline from 2014 to 2016, or capping the percentage of schools within a state subject to the accountability sanctions. “Gutting NCLB and setting its own policy direction using the waiver authority is misguided, confused, and will prove to be counterproductive.”

In National Journal’s discussion, the waiver plan takes hits for going too far and not going far enough.


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  1. If we closed every magnet school that did NOT significantly raise scores despite their obvious and well-publicized advantages ….