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Jeanne Allen: NCLB Waivers Putting A Nation at Risk, Again

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it

CER Press Release
Washington, DC
February 9, 2012

Jeanne Allen, President of The Center for Education Reform, released the following statement regarding today’s announcement that ten states have been granted waivers from ‘No Child Left Behind’ requirements:

“Imperfect as NCLB may be, its value to our schools and the country lies in the long-term spotlight it has thrown on the persistent failure of the system to provide even an adequate education for our children.

“Many are uncomfortable with this continuous revelation, and they should be. That’s the point.

“For decades, the actual state of student achievement was masked behind a school or district’s averaged results. Muddled with a commonly held belief – by the public and policymakers alike – that ‘good schools’ had money while ‘bad schools’ were impoverished, sweeping generalizations regarding the efficacy of the public school system belied the granular truth. NCLB’s data-demands unearthed a different reality and have allowed us to remove the comfortable excuses that helped prolong a damaging achievement gap.

“Since it’s inception, NCLB has been the target of relentless opposition from districts and Superintendents whose voices only grew louder as mandates for data collection revealed little improvement and, in too many instances, continuous failure.

“Now, ten states have been granted a waiver from the requirements of the law. These states actually believe they will succeed where so many others had failed for decades, as if commitment, passion or resolve will fix our problems. In reality, they may just turn the clock back to the decade when we were ‘A Nation at Risk’ and neither carrots nor sticks had a place in our schools. To understand that, one must truly understand the history of reform. Our newest leaders on the scene have not taken the time to look back.

“Providing states money and flexibility in monitoring school district progress without firm consequences is not reform. If school district power were the answer to our education woes, our nation would be soaring high above the rest of the world in achievement. It is not, and it will not, until our leaders – just as the people they serve – face both rewards and sanctions for the education systems they govern.”

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