TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – Florida and nine other states have been given an exemption to the No Child Left Behind law from President Barack Obama.
No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.
Passed a decade ago with widespread partisan support, the law was designed to help the nation’s poor and minority children. It has been up for renewal since 2007.
But lawmakers have been stymied for years by competing priorities, disagreements over how much of a federal role there should be in schools and, in the recent Congress, partisan gridlock.
“It’s a reflection of congressional inactivity,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho of Miami Dade School District. “This law should have… the no child left behind law should have been reauthorized back in 2007. People talk about how education is, but they have done very little about it.”
Carvahlo testified before Congress back in September, urging the federal government to do something about the law that he considered unrealistic.
“There is this expectation that by 2014, 100 percent of America’s children will be proficient in math and reading,” he said. “You know, I ask people, walk around Miami. We have children who arrive on our shores today. They will not be able to be proficient in math and reading and English and demonstrate so by 2014.”
Critics say the 2014 deadline was unrealistic, the law is too rigid and led to teaching to the test, and too many schools feel they are labeled as “failures.”
Under No Child Left Behind, schools that don’t meet requirements for two years or longer face increasingly tough consequences, including busing children to higher-performing schools, offering tutoring and replacing staff.
In addition to Florida, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee also received waivers.
The only state that applied for the flexibility and did not get it, New Mexico, is working with the administration to get approval, according to a White House official.
Under the deal, the states must show they will prepare children for college and careers, set new targets for improving achievement among all students, develop meaningful teacher and principal evaluation systems, reward the best performing schools and focus help on the ones doing the worst.
“It’s a huge relief now,” said Karen Aronowitz, President of the United Teachers of Dade. “It’s time to reevaluate how we’re evaluating teachers. All teachers are evaluated on one test and one test only and that test is the FCAT and so teachers are being evaluated against test scores in areas where they don’t even teach and teachers who teach our autistic children who work ESE (Exceptional Student Education) populations who work with special children have no opportunity at all to move forward or to be evaluated on the work that they’re doing.”
A total of 28 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signaled that they, too, plan to seek waivers.
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