New York Gets Waiver for No Child Left Behind

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New York is getting some breathing room on complying with the No Child Left Behind law, which requires that all students be proficient on state math and English exams by 2014.

On Tuesday, the federal government granted New York and seven other states waivers from the law, bringing the total number of states granted waivers this year to 19.

Richard Perez-Pena reports in The New York Times that the United States Department of Education is freeing states from certain provisions of the law under the condition that states agree to meet new standards, over a longer time frame, that Arne Duncan, the education secretary, says are tougher. Mr. Perez-Pena reports:

The waivers, like the Race to the Top competition for federal money, have allowed the Obama administration to enact parts of its education agenda without sweeping legislation, prompting some conservatives to complain that it is overstepping its authority.

In a conference call with journalists, Mr. Duncan insisted that he would much rather Congress amended the law.

“Our goal with this waiver process, frankly, has always been to get out of the way of states and districts,” Mr. Duncan said. “Stay tuned in the coming weeks. We’ll be announcing more states.”

So far, the department has not turned down any state’s request for a waiver, though it has negotiated the terms with states before granting them. Eighteen additional requests are pending.

New York's state education commissioner, John B. King, said the waiver allowed the state to move away from requirements that were "unproductive or unrealistic."

By the way, Merryl H. Tisch, the chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, is apparently still kicking around the idea of running for mayor of New York. The Wall Street Journal reports that Ms. Tisch, though a registered Democrat, may be "open to the possibility of running for mayor as a Republican."

Here in the city, the Bloomberg administration is looking for more authority in how it handles teachers accused of sexual misconduct.

SchoolBook reports that the city is hoping to change state education law, so that the chancellor can have the final authority to fire a teacher accused of sex abuse -- that's even if an arbitrator does not find the teacher guilty during an impartial hearing process.

As expected, the proposal does not sit well with the teachers' union. And it's important to mention that the bill has only one sponsor, State Senator Stephen M. Saland, a Republican.

In other news, school safety officers made 327 arrests at the city’s schools this winter, or just over five per school day, and handed out 555 summons, according to new data released by the New York Police Department.

It was a slight uptick from the 279 students arrested during the 55 school days between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. For a more detailed breakdown of the arrests and summons, check out Theodoric Meyer's blog post.

And for those eighth graders and their parents who are feeling the pangs of not getting into a first-choice high school, Inside Schools offers some advice and words of encouragement.

For more education news, check out the Rise & Shine post on Gotham Schools.

Coming up today, Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott will testify on the Education Department's budget before the City Council Education Committee. If you already tuned out at the words "budget hearing," just check back later today for need-to-know details.

And this afternoon, parents at Public School 121 Throop in the Bronx will rally to demand that the Department of Education do a better job of removing light fixtures containing PCBs from schools, and of notifying parents about the issue.