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2 superintendents join call for No Child Left Behind waiver

Legislation that was Bush administration signature education reform ‘flawed,’ educators say

Posted: June 20, 2012 2:47 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2012 2:47 p.m.

Two local school superintendents have joined in the call to exempt California from No Child Left Behind federal education mandates.

The California Department of Education and state Board of Education formally requested a waiver Friday from the mandates that were the hallmark of the George W. Bush administration's education reform.

"It's not possible. It never was possible," Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger said of the federal mandates. "It's flawed."

Winger and Castaic Union School District Superintendent James Gibson both joined in the statewide movement to gain some flexibility from the federal standards.

No Child Left Behind was signed into law in 2001 and set new standards for the way in which the federal government keeps public schools accountable for student achievement.

The law mandates a time line for student proficiency in English language arts and mathematics. The mandated achievement levels have increased by 10 percent every year for the last decade.

For the 2012-13 school year, the federal government requires nearly 90 percent of students to be proficient in English language arts and math.

By 2014, 100 percent of students are mandated to be proficient. Locally and across the state, educators say not every child can be proficient to the No Child Left Behind standards, especially English-language learners and special-education students, who face extra obstacles in their academic studies.

Schools and school districts that don't meet federal standards must come up with intervention plans for students. Three of Newhall's 10 elementary schools are under such a mandate, even though they surpass the state's goals on standardized testing and have been honored as California Distinguished Schools.

California's top educators are asking that they be able to use their own accountability standards for students, rather than the rigid requirements under No Child Left Behind.

Nearly a dozen states across the country have been granted waivers so far.

The California Department of Education's waiver request came with the support of dozens of letters from administrators, parents and teachers, including those from Winger and Gibson, as well as the California Teachers Association, the California State Parent-Teacher Association and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs.

Congress has delayed any decisions on No Child Left Behind for the last three years, prompting states like California to seek waivers until a federal decision can be made.

"That leaves us being tagged with these labels and being misrepresented as failure," Winger said.




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