The main problem we see with Hawaii seeking a waiver from compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind act is it again raises the fear that children educated in our public schools will never be able to compete with those trained in other states and countries.
Sixty-two percent of Hawaii's schools failed to meet guidelines for proficiency in math and English this year as specified in the federal law.
The waivers are supposed to be granted on the basis that states asking for them will put in their own, stricter standards to replace those in No Child Left Behind.
Which begs the question:
If we can't meet NCLB's guidelines, why do we think we'll be able to meet stricter ones?
Decrying NCLB's "one size fits all" requirements, state Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said public input would be sought in developing rules to hold schools, teachers and the state education system accountable.
An Associated Press story said Hawaii told the federal government Tuesday it will seek a waiver. A story in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser said more than 20 states are expected to apply for the waivers.
All of which makes us a little queasy. Perhaps trying to establish national guidelines for student proficiency was ill-advised - but it was certainly well-intentioned. Everyone talks (with a sneer) about No Child Left Behind being a legacy of George W. Bush - but don't forget, Ted Kennedy was its champion in the Senate.
If there are no national standards, how do we know how Hawaii's children are stacking up against those they will have to compete against?
And, darn it, why can't we shake the feeling that all these "waivers" are simply going to allow states to disguise lower standards as "the size" that fits their students?
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.