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Concerns Persist Over NCLB Waivers

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), along with the chairs of the black, Asian, and Hispanic caucuses, expressed concern that the Education Secretary Arne Duncan isn’t holding states that have been given waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) accountable.

These lawmakers are concerned the academic progress and improvement strategies required by the waivers aren’t effectively serving minority and disadvantaged students.

In a letter to the Department of Education, Miller and other lawmakers went as far to say that students’ civil rights are being abridged in states that are not meeting waiver benchmarks.

Dorie Nolt, a Department of Education spokesperson, assured that the NCLB waivers are holding states accountable.

Nolt said in a statement the waivers are designed, “to provide educators with freedom from specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity and improve the quality of instruction in the classroom.”

But Miller and others are still concerned, saying some states have relaxed graduation requirements and lowered expectations since the waivers have been enacted.

Members in both chambers of Congress have introduced legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in efforts to reassert the role of the federal government since NCLB waivers first took hold. It remains to be seen whether the differences in the House and Senate versions can be reconciled.