The Associated Press reported Monday that Hawaii has been granted a waiver from some provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Instead, the state will institute its own plan, the Strive Hi Performance System.
No Child Left Behind was designed to force schools to have pupils reaching national standards in education, most notably in reading and math. Before the waiver was granted, Hawaii schools were under the gun to show that students were proficient in those two areas by 2014.
The AP story explained that critics of the NCLB act felt it was too rigid - that it was impossible to develop an effective one-size-fits-all approach to education. The story went on to say:
"Hawaii Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said today's approval will help focus on college and career readiness, rewarding high-performing schools and customizing student support."
Our only question is: How can you be ready for college or a career if you haven't proved you are proficient in reading and math?
No Child Left Behind was not the brainchild of reactionaries - one of its authors was the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The "Lion of the Senate" was perhaps the most liberal member of that august body for much of his lifetime.
No, it was an earnest and honest attempt to make sure that U.S. students leaving high school could read and do basic math. There were measurements (standardized tests) at different grade levels to make sure progress was being made toward that ultimate goal. And, yes, there were threats to close vastly underperforming schools.
Our initial reaction to Monday's announcement is that the government is simply giving up. Hawaii is only one of 37 states that received waivers from No Child Left Behind.
The deputy superintendent of Hawaii's Department of Education chimed in with:
"We are proud of the work happening at every level of Hawaii's public education system to prepare students for real-world demands and provide better data, tools and support to students, educators and school. Now, with approval of the Strive HI Performance System, we've unlocked the potential of all these efforts to work together in a coherent way to support success."
Not yet. So far, all we've unlocked is the vault where the state's $75 million Race to the Top grant is kept.
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