Educational Editorial: Federal Waivers

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The U.S. Secretary of Education recently announced that he and the President had decided to accept waivers from requirements of "No Child Left Behind". States, including Virginia, have reacted positively to this potential relief.

To be fair, the NCLB had its roots as far back as the first President Bush and following a summit of Governors in Charlottesville, it was called America 2000. Under President Clinton it was Goals 2000, and with the second President Bush it was fortified in law with bipartisan support led by the late Senator Edward Kennedy.

When President Obama appointed Arne Duncan as US Secretary of Education, it was met with excitement from both sides of the aisle as he was a proven accountability advocate. The Secretary had initially delineated three areas of focus: strong standards and testing, turning around low performing schools, and teacher effectiveness.

There were no compromises and states had to accept the Fed's approach or forgo the money, as Virginia did with the Common Core State Standards.

It seems that Secretary Duncan has heard the clock ticking, or cutting loses after a debt debacle where no one wore a white hat, and now the administration has decided to make deals. But, be careful! The Fed may "negotiate" relaxing AYP for focusing on low performing schools, or Highly Qualified Teachers for evaluations that include student performance.

Not unlike Senator Lott's letter to Virginia during the Clinton administration, the closer we get to an election, the more the Fed is willing to compromise. Just be careful when dealing with desperate people.

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