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Senators Disagree On ‘No Child Left Behind’ Waiver Offer


September 23, 2011

(SitNews) WASHINGTON, DC – At a White House press conference today, President Obama offered states the chance to apply for a waiver from “No Child Left Behind” requirements for 100% proficiency by 2014.  Those waivers will be granted if the states impose new policies – long advocated by the Obama administration – for “college and career ready” standards, limiting school accountability for taxpayer dollars to only the lowest-performing, new teacher evaluation systems, and making sure state regulations match his Administration’s expectations.

U.S. Senator Murkowski (R-AK) today challenged the Department of Education’s waiver process for states to opt out of some provisions of the “No Child Left Behind Act” – reminding the administration they do not have the authority to do so, unilaterally. “I’m disappointed that President Obama’s solution to his predecessor’s top-down, one-size-fits-all policy is his own top-down, one-size fits all policy.”

Murkowski said.  “I share the frustrations of Alaskans and Americans who see the flaws in ‘No Child Left Behind’ and the shortcomings of the Adequate Yearly Progress approach, especially given Alaska’s unique challenges” added Murkowski.  “But you cannot bypass Congress when you are changing education policy.  This waiver deal will exchange a set of one-size-fits-all rules with rules Secretary Duncan likes.  In case he has forgotten, he is the Secretary of Education, not the Superintendent of Alaska.” 

However U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) is urging the State of Alaska to apply for a waiver to what he describes as the burdensome and broken No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Begich is continuing a push for an education policy that respects the uniqueness and variety of Alaska’s classrooms.

Begich’s call is made in a letter to Gov. Sean Parnell and follows an announcement today by President Obama that the U.S. Department of Education will be issuing waivers from key provisions of the NCLB Act in exchange for state-led education reform plans.

“I encourage the State of Alaska to embrace our diverse classrooms and empower our communities to educate their kids by developing an education plan that returns local control and recognizes the unique needs of Alaska’s classrooms, students and teachers,” Begich said. “The one size fits all No Child Left Behind Act doesn’t fit Alaska’s classrooms and ignores the differences between an XTRATUF clad classroom in Ketchikan and a sandal clad classroom in Florida.”  

Sen. Begich’s letter encourages Gov. Parnell to pursue waivers to bring much-needed regulatory relief to Alaska’s schools and offers assistance in dealing with the Obama administration.

“By allowing Alaska to play a more integral role in improving struggling schools and rewarding those who are high-achieving, NCLB waivers are an important step toward returning local control,” Begich states in his letter. “As your administration considers applying for this regulatory relief, I am ready to assist you in explaining to the Obama administration the unique challenges Alaska’s schools face, and why unique solutions will be required to deliver a quality, meaningful education to Alaska’s students.”

On the Web:

Read Begich's letter to Governor Parnell>  


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews



Source of News: 

Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

Office of U.S. Senator Mark Begich


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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