I posted several weeks ago about Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s offer to give states waivers from the No Child Left Behind Law if they could demonstrate alternative efforts to improve accountability. Today’s New York Times updates that story . . . with a Western twist, and not a whole lot of emphasis on accountability. Montana, Idaho and Utah are all resisting raising the bar (that they’re already failing to meet), and it looks as if the Department of Education will give them a hand.
I’ve expressed my ambivalence about this before. On the one hand, NCLB’s 100% proficiency standard is simply unrealistic; worse, it discourages teachers and administrators who achieve substantial learning gains. Yet there’s little doubt in my mind that NCLB has focused needed attention and resources on disadvantaged and minority kids. I worry that states such as Utah (and Idaho and Montana?) can be too complacent about average performance. I’d hate to see th spotlight on our neediest children dimmed.
Meanwhile Congress slogs forward on reauthorizing the legislation. There hasn’t been much political energy, or indeed room in the legislative calendar, for this issue. Maybe when our Congressmen and Senators return from August recess they can get back to school.
Here’s the link: www.nytimes.com/