State should seek waiver from federal education law

Education is the responsibility of state government and local school districts.


State education officials should seek a waiver to meeting the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law on principle.

Education is the responsibility of the states and local school districts, not the federal government.

In fact, it would be best for the country if the No Child Left Behind law was repealed. To this point it hasn't done much but create expensive hoops that education officials have to jump through in order to qualify for federal money.

But, politics being politics, that isn't likely to happen in this election year. Those seeking federal office need an apple-pie issue on which to campaign, and No Child Left Behind -- claiming to improve education -- fits the bill.

Nevertheless, the federal law does allow for a waiver if the state has its own plan. Washington lawmakers are working on such a plan.

The No Child Left Behind law mandates every child in the nation be at grade level in math and reading by 2014. Although Washington students are nearing the goal for reading, they are not near reaching that level for math.

Washington state is not alone.

President Obama granted waivers to 10 of the 11 states that have applied so far.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said he would announce the state's plan today. According to a 269-page draft proposal posted on his office's website, Washington will likely ask for 10 specific exemptions from the federal law.

The federal government has said states applying for waivers must meet certain requirements, including making a commitment to design, pilot and implement a teacher and principal evaluation system that is based significantly on "student growth measures."

This week state lawmakers are pushing a compromise proposal to change the way state teachers are evaluated, and improvement in student learning would be a factor in teacher evaluations. In theory, we like the idea.

Ultimately, the state needs to do what it takes to get out from under this federal mandate that unnecessarily drives up costs and creates administrative headaches without improving education.

Education is the responsibility of state government and local school districts.


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