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Connecticut 1 of 8 States Given A Waiver for No Child Left Behind [VIDEO]

The waiver will give Connecticut more flexibility for how it can spend federal education money.

Joined by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and a host of Connecticut's political elite, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that Connecticut was one of eight states to receive a second round of waivers excusing it from the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. 

Malloy and Duncan hailed as helping it to achieve the waiver, and Duncan went as far as to say that the education reform legislation made Connecticut "one of the leading states in this round" of applications. 

“Connecticut’s plan to adopt college and career-ready standards, elevate and support teachers, and focus resources in order to close the achievement gap will include hundreds more schools and thousands more children who were invisible under NCLB," Duncan said. "Connecticut’s hard work and collaboration show that state and local leaders are ready to lead the way in education reform." 

Malloy said the waiver grants Connecticut public schools greater flexibility to spend Federal Title 1 dollars, avoids a situation where about half of the state's public schools would be deemed as "failing" under NCLB guidelines and creates a better system to accurately measure student achievement. 

“Receiving a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act will ensure that Connecticut has the flexibility to implement a reform plan that fits our state, one that is not bound strictly by federal mandates,” Malloy said. “For years, while other states implemented education reform plans, Connecticut stuck to the old way of doing things and many of our students suffered for it. But the debate we had over the last few months sent a powerful message – that we were finally serious about turning around struggling schools. Now that we have a reform plan in place, we will begin working in earnest to close the nation’s largest achievement gap."

Duncan said that he was "closely monitoring" Connecticut's efforts to pass an education reform bill over the past several months, and said the bill that the legislature ultimately passed helped make Connecticut one of the strongest of 26 states that applied for a second round of waivers to be excused from NCLB provisions. The other seven states to receive the waiver Tuesday were Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. Eleven states were granted waivers under a first round of applications in February of 2012. 

"Of the 26 applications we received this round, Connecticut was amongst the strongest and most creative and innovative, so that takes a lot of handwork," Duncan said. 

Malloy's office said that Connecticut's application was built around four key principals: programs designed to prepare students for college or the workforce; a shift toward state defined standards to measure student performance that "sets the bar higher" than the NCLB provisions; a focus on supporting effective instruction and leadership; and a concentration on reducing "excessive paperwork" and "red tape." 

“This waiver application captures the education reform activities Connecticut is genuinely and vigorously in the process of pursuing," said Connecticut Education Secretary Stefan Pryor. "From Common Core implementation to low performing school turnaround to educator evaluation, we were able to convey Connecticut’s authentic agenda in our presentation to the federal Education Department. We’re proud that our state’s application has been approved and we’re very grateful for the flexibility Secretary Duncan is enabling us to exercise in pursuit of our Connecticut agenda."

Duncan said that the U.S. Department of Education has adopted the policy that the No Child Left Behind Act, one of the signature pieces of legislation of George W. Bush's presidency that mandates that public schools must meet certain mandated levels of proficiency on standardized tests or face penalties, is "largely broken now," which is why so many states are trying to opt out of it. 

"It was passed 10 years ago, it was supposed to be reauthorized five years ago, and the country's…since moved so far," Duncan said. "The law is very, very punitive. I would say there are about 50 ways to fail and the only reward for success is you are not labeled a failure. That makes no sense whatsoever." 

Meriden Superintendent Mark Benigni, who attended the announcement at the State Capitol in Hartford Tuesday afternoon, said he was excited by the waiver, because it would provide Connecticut public schools with more "flexibility" when it came to how they could spend federal education dollars. 

"Flexibility in how we spend Title 1 funds is very important. The law has forced us to hire outside tutors, but we've never seen any studies that suggest that that is benefiting students," Benigni said. "Now we can use that money in a way that provides more creativity or in a  way that we think will fit our students needs better." 

Herzovet May 29, 2012 at 08:55 PM
It's about time - this was an ill-advised program from its inception. Just another example how the Federal government goes around sticking its nose into matters that they have very little knowledge of and then come up with a thousand page document that alienates the States against them. Finally, a modicum of reason from the current Sec of Education - let's hope the entire law is trashed in the not too distant future.
Spiff May 29, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Hey Ernie, Your comment, "Just another example how the Federal government goes around sticking its nose into matters that they have very little knowledge of and then come up with a thousand page document that alienates the States against them," makes me think that you're referring to Obamacare!
Happy Percy May 29, 2012 at 11:03 PM
You know some people were meant to sweep floors and clean toilets. Just let THEM BE!
Andrew Ziemba May 30, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Well minimum wage laws keep unskilled labor out of work and into the welfare system and into crime. Where would the democrats get their votes from?
Nancy May 30, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Having been a tutor for the program, I regret to see that portion of NCLB cut. The children got tutoring on core subjects that were for many reasons missed in the classroom. It followed the State Standards and made a big difference to those children. They improved measurably in as little as 15 hours. Once their class moves on, if there isn't sufficient help, that child doesn't have the skill to keep up with the next level of work. We all know what that leads to... It's very unfortunate that studies weren't complied on the individual tutoring portion of NCLB. I sincerely hope that the public schools, libraries, and others will offer some individual tutoring for these students who through illness, changing schools, being bullied or abused, etc have missed a key element in their educational progress.
R Eleveld May 30, 2012 at 04:21 PM
NCLB being off the table makes certain vested interests very happy. I know based upon the vitrio several teachers have spouted about NCLB, they are toasting this new with huge grins.... Why? Think about it. BTW I am not a fan of NCLB, I am a fan of local control. I think we should seriously be discussing the concept of funds following the child. The costs of post secondary education has skyrocketed to the point where economically speaking it makes no sense for 1/2 the students to even consider attending college/university. The debt load is crazy. I think in the primary and secondary levels we should have an open discussion about funds tied to the child whereever the child goes. The per pupil costs on the local level are so high that it is getting to the point that the poorest are not going to be able to live in a community, let alone send the kids to the local school. Eduation is the great equalizer! Parents must be involved in this discussion, and they also must learn to separate true debate from political/union/job protecting/vested interest rhetoric that is not related to the child. We need to talk about giving parents some responsibility. Many teachers will argue it is the parents that are part of the problem. I would argue that placing a sum to be used anywhere, that the parents will not be a part of the problem but an ally in the results.
Joel Mrosek May 30, 2012 at 05:34 PM
The most amusing part of this article is how the Governor and Arne Duncan are high fiving each other about Malloy's ability to weasel around the requirements of this law and be granted a waiver. 50% of our children are still in a failed system. Nothing changes that except the Feds have accepted a "plan" to change that. Think a Republican Governor would have gotten a waiver? Is there anything in past that one can point to as evidence this plan is nothing more than weasel words?
Catherine & Dennis May 30, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Maybe the teachers should continue to cheat on the tests to show improvement in the schools as it was done (I think Waterbury). No matter, changing the rules does not improve the result. Lessening the requirements puts us further behind the eight ball in the world arena. We are running towards the designation of Third World Country. What will they do when they cannot afford TV to watch Springer and Hillbilly Handfishing or the Kardashians? Is there any common sense left ????
charles May 31, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I am glad that Connecticut got a waiver for No Child Left Behind. NCLB is all about students who are failing, but what about students that go above and beyond? Are these considerations part of President Bush's plan? I don't think so. Good job Connecticut!
Marty Salvatore May 31, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Hollywood elitists.
Marty Salvatore May 31, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Eight states got waivers: Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. Louisiana Gov: Bobby Jindal (R) Ohio Gov: John Kasich (R) Rhode Island Gov: Lincoln Chafee (I) Three out of eight are NOT Democrats. So yeah, I do think a Republican Governor "would have gotten" a waiver. Sheesh.
meowkats4 May 31, 2012 at 05:12 PM
The legislation was proposed by President George W. Bush on January 23, 2001. It was coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA), and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH). The United States House of Representatives passed the bill on May 23, 2001 (voting 384–45),] and the United States Senate passed it on June 14, 2001 (voting 91–8). I WOULD SAY THE BLAME GOES TO BOTH PARTIES ON THIS ONE!!!
Herzovet May 31, 2012 at 05:37 PM
WHATEVER! It was flawed from the beginning and I don't think any school system will be sad when it is totally shut down! How many of those who proposed the bill were teachers? They should stick to politicking and let the educators take care of the teaching!
Ernie B. January 04, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Frankly, it's a shame on so many levels. NCLB had / has it's problems for sure, but... there are more children that are truly left behind, children passed to the next level just to get them out of the class, kids in the 7th or 8th grade that can't read... How do we help those kids? Are we just going to have a generation or two of kids that can never succeed? Do we just give up on kids because NCLB had some flaws? So when we decided to opt out of NCLB - what was the plan to help these children that can't read, can't do math, don't have money for extra help - now that we've thrown out the bath water, what do we do with the baby?

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