The July 26 guest editorial celebrating the U.S. Department of Education’s granting South Carolina a conditional waiver from enforcement of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is naïve or ill-informed, or both. (“Federal Waiver Allows S.C. To Improve Education,” by The Columbia State) Practically everyone agrees that the NCLB requirement of 100 percent proficiency of students in math and reading was unrealistic, but the Obama administration is not telling the truth when it suggests states receive “flexibility” with their waivers.
In truth, the administration is using the waiver gambit to impose even more sweeping requirements on state and local educational systems (and usurping the lawmaking authority of Congress in the process). Right up top, South Carolina pledges to adhere to the national Common Core standards and assessments, a commitment that forfeits all rights of the state to modify this prescribed regimen when parts of it are found to be flawed.
The pact inked with Washington also specifies in detail how South Carolina will go about grading schools and trying to transform the lowest performing among them. Anyone who believes this really means operational flexibility should read U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s July 19 letter in which he instructs state Education Superintendent Mick Zais to “please note that the [U.S.] Department will closely monitor South Carolina’s implementation of the plans, systems, and interventions” specified in the waiver agreement.
Shame on Mick Zais for buying into this phony flexibility, and on you for misleading readers about it.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.