Arne Duncan tells The Times that he’s starting to think about a big package of No Child Left Behind waivers (called “plan B”) because Congress isn’t acting. Ignore the overheated rhetoric neither the lack of action on NCLB or the waivers on the horizon are a big surprise.
Two distinct issues here though: Turf and policy. There is always some opposition to a move like this because even though the law clearly gives Duncan (and his predecessors who used waivers as well) the authority to make a variety of waivers, and waivers are pretty commonplace in a host of policy domains, Congress doesn’t like being preempted – and there is, of course, a natural tension between two co-equal branches of government. But there are also a host of policy issues at play in this specific instance. All NCLB waivers are not created equal and this DFER blog post for a few months ago is well-worth checking out for more on that. Bottom line: A lot of the obvious stuff has already been waived or rendered moot by other changes and there is a disconnect between the rhetoric and the facts on the ground (eg #s of schools not making “adequate yearly progress” was only 38 percent last year, hardly an unreasonable number), so the administration is going to find itself performing a real high wire act here to balance political pressure with maintaining a focus on accountability for underserved students.
In the WaPo Joel Klein rolls up changing personnel and a changing ethos in public education. The nut:
So what drives this new generation of reformers? In contrast to the unions, bureaucrats and other predictable apologists for the failed status quo, they believe our schools can do a whole lot better than they are doing, especially for poor kids growing up in challenged families. Sure, educating children from difficult circumstances is often much harder, but the notion that schools can get much better results with those same kids than they’re now generally getting is no longer a matter of abstract debate. It’s now established fact.
Chicago Trib looks at the backstory on the passage of the recent reform legislation in Illinois. (Disc – Highlights SFC, a Bellwether client).
And I’d like to be able to report that the new American Educator is 100 percent Finland free, but of course it’s not.* Still well worth checking out this issue – a couple of great articles.
*Update: Wolverine fans are already sending emails that it’s not U of M free, rather it’s loaded up.