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Concessions from Obama on NCLB

| November 8, 2011 | 0 Comments

For many Americans, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) – the common name for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that underpins the country’s education system – was fundamentally problematic.

Now President Barack Obama has publicly recognised this fact. Speaking recently at the White House in the presence of students, teachers, Principals and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the President acknowledged that “the goals… were admirable… but experience has taught us that in its implementation, [it] had some serious flaws that are hurting our children.”

Obama has released states from a 2014 deadline for achieving 100% proficiency in standardised literacy and numeracy examinations. Instead he has proposed a bargain – flexibility in exchange for improved education standards – in the form of waivers. States will be able to pursue their own plans for improvement and accountability, as long as they meet certain requirements. Commented Amy Wilkins, Vice President at Education Trust in Washington DC: “It correctly balances federal and state responsibility… It says, we expect learning in exchange for federal dollars, but the systems of supports, interventions, sanctions, all of that is left up to the states. That is what is most hopeful.”

While the waivers refer to specific aspects of the NCLB law, generally speaking, says Duncan, the federal government will now expect states to raise student achievement standards to match college and career requirements; to hold schools accountable for student gains or losses; and to improve teacher proficiency. Republicans have been vocal in their rejection of the idea that states could effectively turn education around on their own.

Obama has also asked Americans to get behind the American Jobs Act. “Here in America, we are laying off teachers in droves. It makes no sense, and it has to stop. This bill will prevent up to 280 000 teachers from losing their jobs,” said the President. The plan will also modernise at least 35 000 public school buildings and community college campuses, while putting construction workers back to work.

Category: Summer 2011

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