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NCLB Creating “Slow Motion Train Wreck”

Duncan Will Propose ESEA “Flexibility” Package if Congress Does Not Act Soon on Reauthorization

June 16, 2011

The Obama Administration plans to provide regulatory flexibility around the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act if Congress does not complete work on a reauthorization bill for the Obama Administration’s new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) prior to the August recess, in order to help support reform efforts underway at the state and local level.

Speaking on Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Congress for working on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to rewrite NCLB – but Duncan also pointedly warned that the much criticized Bush Administration law “is creating a slow-motion train wreck for children, parents and teachers,” and called for Congress to act soon.

“I remain hopeful and confident that Congress will soon take action to strengthen and upgrade the nation’s education law. But while Congress works, state and local school districts are buckling under the law's goals and mandates,” Duncan said.

“Despite our shared sentiment for reform and our long-standing proposal to reshape No Child Left Behind, the law remains in place, four years after it was due for reauthorization. Our children get only one shot at an education and they cannot wait any longer for reform. We must fix No Child Left Behind, not in Washington time, but in real people time.”

Duncan said that regulatory flexibility will not replace comprehensive reform, or give states and districts a pass from accountability. Instead, the goal is to “unleash energy at the local level even as Congress works to rewrite the law, giving states, districts and schools the flexibility they need to raise standards, boost quality, and improve our lowest-performing schools.”

Teachers, parents, school leaders, governors, members of Congress and the U.S. Department of Education have all called for reforming NCLB. To avoid sanctions under the current law, many states have lowered academic standards instead of making them more rigorous, and states spend billions of dollars every year on NCLB’s one-size-fits-all mandates.

Both President Obama and Secretary Duncan have met repeatedly with members of Congress to advance negotiations on the law. The administration released a blueprint back in March 2010 outlining proposed changes, and just last March the President reissued a call for reform.

Source:  U.S. Department of Education