Texas to Apply for Waiver From No Child Left Behind 9/7/12
CBS 7 Reporter
September 7, 2012
Odessa, TX - Newly appointed education commissioner Michael Williams, who's from Midland, is taking a bold first step, trying to reduce federal control over local school districts.
He’s applying for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, which he calls “obsolete.”
Although it could be a long shot, local educators say it's needed.
Williams announced that Texas is joining more than 30 other states in asking for a waiver from the Bush Administration's 2001 federal law. It promises money, but with strings attached.
ECISD administrators say the act set standards that are nearly impossible to meet, especially with a brand new standardized test in place.
It all started as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act introduced by President Johnson in the 1960s to give disadvantaged students a leg up.
"If you educate people they can get better jobs have better futures and that's how you wage the war on poverty. That's what it began as," explains ECISD Chief of Staff Dr. H.T. Sanchez.
Then president George W. Bush took it a step further.
"What President Bush took from the state of Texas to the national level was testing, accountability and sanctions if you don't meet that passing standard," Dr. Sanchez says.
But Dr. Sanchez says those standards are set too high, in fact, nearly 44% of Texas School districts failed to meet them.
He believes removing the strings attached to those dollars would allow more flexibility for local school districts.
If the waiver is granted...
"The district retains local control over those federal dollars, because what's interesting is, though they're federal dollars they're generated off of peoples income tax," Dr. Sanchez explains.
In Ector County ISD that funding amounts to nearly $14 million.
"The governor is saying no, send the money but keep your sanctions"
Sanctions, Dr. Sanchez says, go against the ultimate goal of educating students.
According to the Texas Tribune, under the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, only 44% of Texas schools met this year’s goal of an 87% passing rate for reading and an 83% passing rate for math on the state’s standardized tests.
Williams says Texas will apply for the waiver next year.