Parents Across America rejects Duncan's "waiver" proposal

August 10, 2011

Natalie Beyer, (919) 382-2823
Pamela Grundy, (704) 806-0410
Leonie Haimson, (917) 435-9329
Karran Harper Royal, (504) 722-8174
Rita Solnet, (561) 289-7333

National organization Parents Across America rejects Duncan’s “waiver” proposal and calls for complete overhaul of No Child Left Behind

The national organization Parents Across America opposes the proposal by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to offer “waivers” to states, exempting them from provisions of the law known as No Child Left Behind if they adopt education policies favored by Duncan.

While Parents Across America (PAA) agrees that No Child Left Behind is an unrealistic, rigid and punitive law, the waivers that Duncan has now proposed are likely to be equally bad, if not worse. The Department of Education could force more states to adopt the Common Core Curriculum thus continuing to ignore the fact that it is illegal for the federal government to impose a national curriculum. The proposal is also likely to expand the destructive agenda of over-testing, school closings, and privatization, despite the fact that these policies have no scientific evidence to support them and are causing tremendous distress in communities across the nation.

Natalie Beyer, school board member in Durham NC, says: “Parents agree that American students are spending too much class time on standardized testing, but these new proposals would do nothing to help. Instead, proposed waivers would further extend federal control over local school issues. We request a study from the General Accounting Office of how much No Child Left Behind has already cost states and local districts and the estimated costs of implementing Common Core Standards under Race to the Top. We implore Congress to include parents, teachers and students in an immediate thorough overhaul of NCLB before going any further down this dangerous road.”

Adds Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, “Duncan’s heavy-handed and prescriptive approach would only continue the trend of spending billions to build up the bureaucracy and provide excessive profits to testing companies and consultants, while teachers are being laid off and class sizes are growing throughout the country. Whether the system of rewards and punishments will be based on value-added test scores instead of absolute goals, the result is the same for our schools and our children: more money and time spent on testing and test prep instead of real learning.”

Says Karran Harper Royal of the Pyramid Community Parent Resource Center in New Orleans, where more than 70% of students now attend charter schools, “Race to the Top has been far worse than NCLB and has done little to help our most academically needy students. Yet what Arne Duncan is now proposing through these “waivers” could produce even worse outcomes for our children.”

Rita Solnet of Palm Beach County School District Curriculum Council agrees: “Numerous studies conclude that incentives linked to high stakes tests do not increase learning. In fact, long term studies conclude this leads to a climate of cheating and gaming the system to survive. Every month we read of another major cheating scandal created by high-stakes testing. Stop wasting taxpayer money on failed policies. I am pleased Secretary Duncan acknowledged the destructive flaws within NCLB. NCLB is a train wreck. Let’s not replace it with another one. Let’s do this the right way so every child, regardless of disability, ELL status, family income level can be assured a high quality public education delivered by respected professionals.”

Pamela Grundy of Mecklenburg Area Coming Together in Charlotte, NC concludes, “We need real reforms based on evidence, and partnerships with parents, teachers and communities, not a unilateral and autocratic agenda imposed from above. As parents watching our children’s education suffer, we are saying, “Enough.”


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