NCLB: Waivers are good; repeal is better

According to a report by Education Week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Photo credit: Raul654

gave states 315 waivers under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2009, nine times more than his predecessor Margaret Spellings approved in 2008.

This trend is good for states, including Utah, that have been begging for flexibility since NCLB became federal law in 2002. But the number of waivers requested and granted demonstrates just how rigid and inflexible NCLB is. In the end, no number of waivers for Utah will suffice, other than granting the state a waiver from the entire law.

Issuing waivers might help states cope with the one-size-fits-all federal education law for now, but such action is akin to the feigned magnanimity a bank robber offers his hostages by slightly loosening the cord around their wrists in order to avoid cutting off all circulation.

Utah public schools do not need waivers; they need complete autonomy to address the unique needs of Utah students. As Congress continues to debate the renewal of NCLB, it should do the right thing: give federal education dollars back to states with no strings attached.

And if Congress chooses another course, then Utah should do the right thing: opt out of NCLB for good.