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NCLB Waivers: The Ultimate Ego Trip

The move by states to secure waivers to NCLB requirements is intended to provide more flexibility to their school districts so that – as the theory goes – states and communities can respond to mounting national pressure to deliver better education.

If only it were that easy.

The reality is that these chiefs – regardless of their interests, their power and their ideological leanings – cannot do any better than those in power before NCLB was enacted unless the incentives for change — and the consequences — are no longer voluntary.

True, we have witnessed a sea change with respect to state education policy at the hands of great Governors and school chiefs over time, only to then watch helplessly as it all turned around at the conclusion of a disappointing election cycle. NCLB was intended to finally shake up a system seemingly impervious to change in all but a few pockets of the country. It wasn’t a perfect law. No law is. It relied upon people of varied interests to respond to the challenge and the consequences clearly set forth.

Because of NCLB, we have learned more each year about the dismal state of education through data that, for the first time, was publicly available and disaggregated for all to see.

For decades, student achievement was masked behind the averaged results of a school – results that really meant very little. Good schools had money. Bad schools were impoverished. That’s what the public — and the policymakers — thought. NCLB data-demands unearthed real achievement data — and helped us to throw away the excuses that created a persistent achievement gap.

But instead of responding to the challenge (as we learned more and more each year about the dismal state of education) school districts and Supers began to fight back. They claimed they were being

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Daily Headlines for September 29, 2011

Fighting the Feds: 2012 Candidates Want States to Control Education
ABC News, September 29, 2011
So when it comes to education policy debates, whether it’s the Democratic incumbent or the array of Republican challengers, all eyes – and talking points – are on two things: the federal government’s role and the overall cost.

Obama Tells Students: Discover New Passions
Washington Post, DC, September 28, 2011
For an incumbent president facing a tough reelection campaign, no public appearance is completely free of political content. But President Obama’s annual back-to-school speech to the nation’s students, delivered Wednesday at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Northwest Washington , was about as close as it gets.

No Child Waivers Make Sense For Now
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, September 29, 2011
Members of Congress railing against the Obama administration’s decision to grant waivers from the sweeping No Child Left Behind education law have little ground to stand on.

Coming Together to Dismantle Education Reform
TIME, September 29, 2011
A new consensus is emerging in education politics. But can the center hold? And would reformers even want it to? Bipartisanship is supposed to be a good thing — except for when Republicans and Democrats come together to try to paper over our education problems.

Teachers Union Launches Ad Campaign Supporting Obama Jobs Bill
The Hill, DC, September 28, 2011
The National Education Association (NEA) launched a multistate television ad campaign Wednesday in support of President Obama’s American Jobs Act.

Romney’s Race From the Top
American Spectator, September 29, 2011
The GOP field would rather ignore education altogether, even to the point of dismissing sensible, conservative ideas that could get better bang for taxpayers’ buck. This was particularly clear when Texas Gov. Rick Perry took aim at Romney for praising President Barack Obama’s school reform agenda.



Whitman Returns to Her Valley Roots

Wall Street Journal, September 29,

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