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11 States Seek No Child Left Behind Waivers

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 08:25 AM

In the news on Wednesday, 11 states took a major step away from No Child Left Behind by applying for waivers from the federal government, Sam Dillon reports in The New York Times.

The states โ€” Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee โ€” are asking to be relieved of full proficiency standards in math and English. In return, "the states outlined plans to develop their own locally designed school accountability systems, create new educator-evaluation systems and overhaul their lowest-performing schools."

New York State is expected to join the 11, and there will most likely be others who take the federal education secretary, Arne Duncan, up on his offer to provide them with an alternative path to school improvement.

Also from Washington comes news that Congress, under pressure from food lobbyists, refused to pass new nutrition standards that would put more vegetables and fruits into meals to combat child obesity.

So, as Ron Nixon wrote in The Times, "A slice of pizza still counts as a vegetable" under federal school nutrition rules.

Food companies including ConAgra, Coca-Cola, Del Monte Foods and makers of frozen pizza like Schwan argued that the proposed rules would raise the cost of meals and require food that many children would throw away.

The rules would have added $6.8 billion to the $11 billion a year school lunch program.

Speaking of options, Liz Willen of InsideSchools takes on the topic of high school choice by asking the question: How can the high school admissions process be improved?

The InsideSchools Web site, which has been providing resources for parents for years to help in the school search, laments the complexity of the process and comes up with four major suggestions: make the process transparent; level the playing field so everyone has the same choice; give eighth graders days off from school so they can tour high schools; for schools that require an essay, make it the same question so students do not face the daunting task of writing several different essays.

What are your suggestions? InsideSchools is looking for them, and SchoolBook will be watching.

Gotham Schools' Rise and Shine post has a more complete roundup of what's in the news.

Coming up around town Wednesday:

Seven city schoolteachers will be given Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics in a ceremony at 6 p.m. Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott will be at the event at the Great Hall of the Cooper Union, East Seventh Street and Third Avenue, Manhattan.

Juan Morel Campos Secondary School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is on the list of struggling schools, making it vulnerable to overhaul or closing. Parents and educators will meet to discuss how the school has earned a C on its city progress report for the last three years. Some parents, students and teachers are expected to hold a rally right before the meeting, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. outside the school at 215 Heyward Street.

Congratulations to Peg Tyre, author of "The Good School," who was named director of national advocacy for the Edwin Gould Foundation, which is dedicated to seeing students enter and succeed in college. Ms. Tyre, who offered five tips for identifying good elementary school programs on SchoolBook last week, is still taking questions to help you find a school or program for your child. Feel free to ask.

On the Learning Network, a question for students: Do you sympathize with the Occupy Wall Street movement? The Times educators also have a new lesson plan for teachers: Moving the Movement: Analyzing the Future of Occupy Wall Street.

Have an event, good news, a question or other information to share? Post it on your school's page on SchoolBook or e-mail SchoolBook@nytimes.com.

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