NCLB waiver allows flexibility

Minnesota schools were suffering under the national education law.

Daily Editorial Board

Last week, Minnesota, along with nine other states, petitioned to the federal government and was granted a much needed reprieve from the inflexible regulations of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind program. Schools that did not meet the standards of the program were labeled as “failure schools,” a label which only caused them to spiral into further failure.

NCLB essentially forced schools and teachers to teach to a test. Instead of teaching children how to learn and enjoy discovery, NCLB required that all of their teaching efforts focus on regurgitating test material to improve scores that determined funding.

Failing students often do not get the help they need from their parents, and NCLB would put that responsibility on teachers who are already asked to help numerous other students at the same time. States should recognize students who need the most help and should have other ways to address their needs; instead of putting that accountability on the already struggling schools, they should take it on themselves.

Bringing to light those schools which need the most attention and help is indeed the first step toward positive discussion. However, punishing poorly performing schools does not facilitate any forward movement. Individual schools are keenly aware of their individual problems and obstacles — having outside reviewers from Washington, who have never taught a class and who slap a one-size-fits-all path for them to follow, is clearly not an adequate solution. “Failure” schools need more help, not penalties. Ten states have sought and received a waiver from NCLB, hopefully a sign that the failed law is on its way out throughout the country.