U.S. President Barack Obama announced Thursday that 10 states have been exempted from some burdensome mandates of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), giving them flexibility to implement their own reforms, according to Xinhua.
"Today, I am pleased to announce that we are giving 10 states .. . the green light to continue making the reforms that are best for them," Obama said in a White House announcement attended by state education officials, teachers, civil rights, and business leaders.
"If you`re willing to set higher, more honest standards than the ones that were set by No Child Left Behind, then we`re going to give you the flexibility to meet those standards," he said.
The 10 states approved for flexibility are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In exchange for this flexibility, these states have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness.
The NCLB, which is five years overdue for a rewrite, is driving the wrong behaviors, from teaching to the test to federally determined, one-size-fits-all interventions, the president said.
In addition to the 10 states that have been granted waivers, New Mexico, the one state that applied but wasn`t granted a waiver, is working with the administration to improve its proposal, according to the White House. Twenty-eight other states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico have indicated their intent to seek waivers.
In March 2010, Obama sent to Congress his blueprint for approval of a reform on the Bush-era education law but Congress has so far failed to act on it.
The NCLB has been under increasing criticism as opponents said it drives down standards, weakens accountability, causes narrowing of the curriculum and labels too many schools as failing.
"The goals of No Child Left Behind were the right ones. Standards and accountability -- those are the right goals," Obama said. "We`ve got to do it in a way that doesn`t force teachers to teach to the test, or encourage schools to lower their standards to avoid being labeled as failures."