By John Fensterwald, First Published on EdSource July 16th, 2013. Excerpt of Full Article[divider top=”0″]
Quickly running out of time, a delegation from nine California school districts will go to Washington this week to make a last pitch to federal officials for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law.
Officials from the California Office to Reform Education (CORE), the umbrella organization that the nine districts created, remain optimistic that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will grant them a unique districtwide waiver from significant penalties and requirements under NCLB. The immediate obstacle facing them, for the waiver to take effect in the upcoming school year, is time. Districts are up against deadlines for contracts with companies that provide services, such as tutoring, in schools that have failed to meet NCLB’s academic targets. Especially for Los Angeles Unified, a CORE district, these must be signed within a week or so, said Rick Miller, executive director of CORE.
If the 3-year waiver is approved, such contracts won’t be required. Instead, the nine districts altogether will have flexibility to spend $100 million in Title I dollars funded for low-income children. The districts plan to use some of that money for teachers and administrators to work collaboratively. Sharing best practices among districts is a key element of the CORE application and offers “absolutely the best chance for districts to improve,” said Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson.
Along with Hanson and Miller, superintendents heading to Washington on Tuesday are John Deasy of Los Angeles Unified, Christopher Steinhauser of Long Beach Unified, Richard Carranza of San Francisco Unified and Gary Yee, interim superintendent of Oakland Unified. (Duncan won’t be in town today; he’s heading to Minneapolis.)
What’s encouraging, Miller said, is that “we are still intently engaged in conversations” with senior staff at the Department of Education.