President Barack Obama will announce today that 10 states will be freed from the mandates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), a federal law requiring all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.
NCLB has been seen as harmful to Indian country and cultural education programs. “Indian reservation schools, like inner-city schools, serve mostly low-socioeconomic and culturally marginalized students who typically struggle on the standardized tests mandated by the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act,” reported Brittani K. Roy, a teacher on the Navajo Nation.
In exchange for that freedom, those states have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability and undertake reforms to improve teacher effectiveness.
The 10 states receiving waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
“After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,” said President Obama in a White House press release. “Today, we’re giving 10 states the green light to continue making reforms that are best for them. Because if we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”
New Mexico has requested the waiver and 28 other states have expressed interest in seeking waivers.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said NCLB, as its currently written, has driven standards down, weakened accountability, caused narrowing of the curriculum and labeled too many schools as failing.
Critics of the law have said the 2014 deadline was unrealistic and that it has led to “teaching to the test,” reported The Associated Press.