Obama to Revamp Federal School Education Law

Posted September 23rd, 2011 at 8:22 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce plans Friday to exempt states from some provisions of the federal education law passed under his predecessor.

The administration will grant waivers to a requirement that every student has to be completely knowledgeable in math and reading by 2014. In exchange for the waiver, states would have to show they had a plan to help the lowest performing schools improve.

In a statement issued Thursday, Mr. Obama said the waivers will give states and local school districts a chance to “unleash energy to improve our schools at the local level.”

The No Child Left Behind education law signed by then-President George W. Bush in 2002 has been criticized as being too focused on standardized student testing that penalizes even high-performing schools if a few students fall short on performance examinations.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the current standards would label more than 80 percent of the nation's schools as failures, a figure disputed by some experts.

The administration says it has created the waiver program because Congress has failed to overhaul the law. But Representative John Kline, who chairs the House Education Committee, says Mr. Obama has set a troubling precedent that gives the education secretary “sweeping authority to handpick winners and losers.”