Monday, November 07, 2005

The Spellings Report: Another Exception To Her Rule

In a sign that the House of Spellings may be less ruthless somewhat flexible in its enforcement of the performance benchmarks mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act, Washington's educrat-in-chief has given New York City a break:
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings granted a waiver Monday to New York City's public school system to allow it to continue tutoring struggling students even though the system has failed to meet federal targets for academic achievement.

New York is the third urban school system to be granted such a waiver, following Chicago and Boston.

In a letter to New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein dated Monday, Spellings approved Klein's request for a "flexibility agreement" for the current school year as part of a pilot tutoring project.

"We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Education to serve as many students as possible with high-quality tutoring services," said Klein spokeswoman Kelly Devers.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, school districts that fail to show enough yearly progress in reading and math for two straight years cannot provide tutoring. That restriction is designed to protect poor students from having to rely on the same schools that may not be serving them well when tapping into the law's promise of free tutoring.

But urban districts say the rule is unfair because their test scores in two subjects may have little to do with their ability to provide extra help. What's more, the large districts argue, the rule could keep children from getting help if other tutors aren't available.

In order to receive the waiver, the city Department of Education must meet several conditions including allowing an independent evaluation of its tutoring services and submitting a progress report at the end of the school year.

"The department would like to learn from the experiences of NYCDOE and disseminate that information to other districts around the country," Spellings said.
The New York City public school system is the nation's largest, with 1.1 million pupils.

I wonder if Spellings will show that much mercy "flexibility" to smaller, less populous school districts like our eleven-school elementary district here in California's "Imperial" Valley...
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