President Obama Provides 10 States with Waivers from No Child Left Behind
On February 9, President Obama announced that 10 states—Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee—would receive waivers and no longer have to meet 2014 targets set by No Child Left Behind. In exchange for the flexibility of not having to meet the NCLB mandates, these states have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and implement major reforms in teaching, including implementing teacher evaluation systems. A week later, the Department approved the waiver request from the state of New Mexico.
Twenty-eight other states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have indicated their intent to seek flexibility in the second round of waivers to be issued.
The waivers from the Department come amid criticism of Congress and their efforts to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, which is five years overdue for a rewrite.
According to a Department of Education press release, “The administration’s decision to provide waivers followed extensive efforts to work with Congress to rewrite NCLB. In March 2010, the administration submitted a “blueprint for reform” to Congress and has met extensively with Republican and Democratic legislators … Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that current law drives down standards, weakens accountability, causes narrowing of the curriculum and labels too many schools as failing. Moreover, the law mandates unworkable remedies at the federal level instead of allowing local educators to make spending decisions.
“Rather than dictating educational decisions from Washington, we want state and local educators to decide how to best meet the individual needs of students,” said Duncan.”
For more information go to www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility.
President Releases FY2013 Budget
Funding to retain and hire teachers, implement job training initiatives at community colleges, and provide incentives to make college more affordable are part of the FY2013 budget, which the president released on February 13 at a community college in Northern Virginia.
The president budget increases education spending to $69.8 billion for FY 2013 (which begins October 1), which is 2.5 percent more than the current budget of $68.1 billion.
Title I grants would receive $14.5 billion, and grants for special education would receive $11.6 billion, which is comparable to current funding. The President is seeking $534 million for School Improvement Grants, $850 million for Race to the Top, and $150m for the Investing in Innovation initiative., and $300 million for theTeacher Incentive Fund, which provides grants to districts to create pay-for-performance programs.
The American Jobs Act also includes $5 billion in competitive funding to provide support to states and districts for bold reforms that can help better prepare, support and compensate teachers. “”The funds would allow states and districts to invest in the teaching profession while helping to drive reform that would reward effectiveness and performance.”
The president is also seeking $8 billion in new money for a Community College Career Fund and $1.1 billion for a revised Career and Technical Education initiative.
For STEM the president is proposing to eliminate the current Mathematics and Science Partnerships program again this year and replace it with the $150m, Effective Teaching and Learning: STEM, He is requesting about $80 million to address his goal of preparing 100,000 new STEM teachers over the next decade by including STEM teacher and leader training and professional development as part of the 25 percent national set aside from the Effective Teachers and Leaders program (formerly the Teacher Quality State Grants which currently funds class size reduction and professional development programs.) The Administration is also requesting $190m for a new Presidential Teaching Fellows program, which would fund formula grants to states to support scholarships for students to attend top tier teacher preparation programs and work in high needs schools and subjects, including STEM. STEM is also prominently mentioned in a number of other key funding programs.
As expected the President’s budget was met with little enthusiasm from legislators on Capitol Hill. In a statement House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said“The administration continues to tighten the federal government’s grip on the nation’s education system, prescribing more intrusion in K–12 classrooms, more burdensome mandates on colleges, more unsustainable costs for taxpayers, and more uncertainty for students of all ages. I am troubled by the president’s plan to expand the Race to the Top program significantly, forcing taxpayers to fund an even larger slush fund operated at the sole discretion of the Secretary of Education.”