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AM News: Senators Scrutinize Waivers and ESEA Renewal

Waivers and ESEA Renewal Get Hard Look From Senators PoliticsK12: Now that the Obama administration has issued more than 30 waivers to help states get relief from parts of the No Child Left Behind Act, should Congress decide to get moving on the long-overdue reauthorization of the law, or step back for a while and allow waivers to take hold in states, and then learn from them? And which policies put in place by the waivers should lawmakers incorporate into a new version of the law?

AMNews

Arne Duncan Defends No Child Left Behind Waivers In Senate Committee Hearing HuffPostEdu: Duncan said the federal government is committed to staying out of educational issues best negotiated by states. "We don't specify the content of academic standards or negotiate teacher contracts," Duncan said in his testimony. "We do have a responsibility to set a high bar to protect the interests of students … but how to reach that bar, I believe, should be left to states."

Center For American Progress Proposes Preschool-For-All Plan AP: The Center for American Progress proposal, released Thursday, provides a road map for how the Obama administration could move forward with pre-kindergarten programs for all 3- and 4-year-olds. For families with younger children, federal subsidies for child care would increase to an average $7,200 per child and the number of students in Early Head Start programs would double.

A Long Struggle for Equality in Tuscon Schools NYT: A federal judge approved a plan on Wednesday intended to lift a longstanding desegregation order that has served as a reason and an excuse for a lot that has gone wrong in the district over the past decades: shrinking enrollment, sliding graduation rates and insistent dropout rates.

Construction Starts School Inside NYC Housing Development WSJ: Developers plan to break ground Thursday on a new school and affordable housing development tucked in East Harlem’s Washington Houses, part of a larger effort by the city to sell underdeveloped pockets of land in public housing complexes to private builders. That represented a perfect opportunity for Harlem RBI, which had been looking hard for a permanent home for its school. 

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No Child Left Behind should be dissolved entirely, which was the administration's first plan; but the federal government has a right to demand school accountability in exchange for federal money, and is wise to do so. It should raise academic accountability by creating new qualifications for college admissions and scholarships, as so many of our overseas competitors do. It should take the lead in specifying the content of academic standards if it is able to improve upon the Common Core, which definitely needs improving upon, especially in mathematics but also in upper secondary English and in other fields. It could expand from here into specifying curricula, since there are outstanding curriculum materials easily available on the internet.

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