CPS Could Seek NCLB Waiver

CPS Could Seek NCLB Waiver

On Monday, the USDE announced three more states would receive so-called NCLB "waivers" allowing them to adjust the school ratings and sanctions required under current law. Illinois was not among them. But CPS doesn't necessarily need Illinois to get a waiver in order to get out from under NCLB.

A consortium of large districts in California including LAUSD has submitted a district-level NCLB waiver request, which the Obama administration is considering despite concerns from some civil rights and reform groups.  Their first proposal was reviewed and returned -- the followup is supposed to be sent to Washington next week.

Other states have not applied, or withdrawn applications, or -- like California -- applied but then declined to re-apply.  The three new states -- Alaska, Hawaii, and W. Virginia -- bring the total number of states operating under waivers to 37 plus DC.  Each of these states has its own accountability system and intervention protocols, though there are similarities.

"Illinois continues to languish in waiver purgatory—the state that's been stuck there the longest over problems meeting the federal department's aggressive timeline for new teacher evaluations," notes EdWeek.

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  • Maybe I am naive or something but the entire obsession with getting NCLB waivers seems absurd because it's likely no major urban district in the nation is going to meet the stipulation that by 2014 every child was supposed to test on grade level in reading and math. The reality is the goal was something to reach for that many poor urban students along with many students with disabilities simply can't reach given the realities of our nation and higher academic standards our States have adopted over the last 15 years or so.

    Since the failure of NCLB for urban students to reach the 2014 goal is obvious and massive really no waiver is necessary. What is the US Department of Education going to do cut funding off to the vast majority of urban districts in the US?

    But the problem isn't limited even to urban districts for example more than two-thirds of North Dakota's public school districts failed to meet annual federal education standards this year. Most of these North Dakota districts are in fact rural.

    The Center on Education Policy found that 48 percent of the nation's public schools failed to meet NCLB goals in 2011. This is up from 39 percent in 2010 and 29 percent in 2006.

    The NCLB game is over and all the States and school districts have to do is simply say they gave it their best shot and didn't make it. But that is not how all of this works, because we have to have a dream of educational equality because after all this is America isn't it. NCLB is part of the myth of American exceptionalism.

    Wikipedia states that American exceptionalism is the proposition that the United States is different from other countries in that it has a specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy. It is not a notion that the United States is quantitatively better than other countries or that it has a superior culture, but rather that it is "qualitatively different". You see in America there is supposed to be no ruling class based on either inheritance or social advantage. All of us are equal before the hidden hand of the market.

    Supposedly free public education is the great social class equalizer in our nation that allows those with merit and true grit to rise to the top. This idea is incredibly powerful and inspiring for many urban teachers, even some who have a social class and racial critique of our educational system. Case in point was last night's Chicago Tonight show on WTTW. Brandon Johnson a CTU organizer and leader of its Black caucus unleashed a blistering commentary on Mayor Emanuel's education policies as being racist. But then he said this too, "Optimism is an important part of what we do every day as teachers. We believe in the hope and the idea that life can be a little better for those that are marginalized." [http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/05/20/school-board-votes-week-closings ]

    Intellectually some of us may doubt that public education in the United States is the great equalizer, but emotionally those of us who are or have been urban teachers are tied to this idea just as much as conservative ideologues who see publicly funded choice programs as being the great equalizer for poor children.

    Rod Estvan

  • Far from naive, I'd say.

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