The Texas Tribune reports that the United States Department of Education, represented by Assistant Secretary Deborah Delisle, has declined Texas’ proposal to seek a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act that would have allowed selected 4th, 6th & 7th grade students to opt-out of the Standardized Tests in the critical reading and math subjects.
The waiver were sought after the 83rd Legislature passed HB866. As some might recall, I was very happy when the bill passed. The legislation was supported by every single Democrat in both houses of the legislature. Delisle, in making her statement on behalf of the Federal Government, stated that the tests were “critical to holding schools and LEAs [local education agencies] accountable for improving the achievement of all students.”
Texas Education Agency commissioner Michael Williams, for his part, responded with the following statement:
“As has been granted in other states, Texas school districts also deserve some relief from NCLB. I remain optimistic that after months of discussion with the U.S. Department of Education, our districts will be granted greater flexibility for some NCLB provisions.”
The Tribune article notes that young schoolchildren in Texas must take a whopping 17 tests BEFORE matriculating to their secondary (Senior High) school. From what I understand, this decision does not pertain to the opt-out requests for High School students, though, unfortunately, this may be a sign of things to come.
37 States, plus the District of Columbia, have been granted these waivers in the past. Besides, President Obama (in agreement with myself) believes that No Child Left Behind is a bad law that should be replaced.
The fact that only an Assistant Secretary made this decisions prevents me from jumping to the conclusion that this is motivated by malice from the President himself, and perhaps gives the State some hope in terms of an appeal. If this is coming from the White House itself, however, it unfortunately would not be the first time the Federal Government screws with Texas in an apparent political retaliatory move. That would not surprise me.
The Federal Government has an unclear role in the education of our youth, but they at least have the responsibility to treat States similarly. Granting waivers to California, while denying them to Texas, is unacceptable.