The No Child Left Behind law has a catchy name. Who could possibly be against the promise that all students should do well in school?

The Lake Wobegon fantasy played well, and in 2001 the Congress passed, on a bi-partisan vote, and President Bush signed, NCLB.  States had until 2014 to achieve the lofty—and as it turned out wildly unrealistic—goal of all students being proficient at grade level in math and reading, as measured by standardized tests.

Well 2014 is almost here, and not surprisingly, no state is going to make the grade.  That’s why West Virginia, and just about every other state, is seeking a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education.

West Virginia got its waiver Monday, becoming the 37th state, along with the District of Columbia, to get out from under the onerous regulation.

That’s a relief. No West Virginia school would have met the 100 percent proficiency standard, triggering sanctions, the possible loss of funding and even more federal control. The regulatory morass of NCLB would have become even more entangled.

The waiver does not let West Virginia schools off the hook.  The state still had to get approval for its own system of evaluating schools and students, and the new accountability should be more effective than just labeling a school as a success or failure.

Under the new system, schools will be evaluated on various criteria, such as individual student improvement, gaps between different groups of students and the quality of instruction.  Based on the results, schools will be ranked as highly effective, effective, needs improvement or targeted for support.

Also, teachers are going to be more thoroughly evaluated. Currently, teachers are reviewed only for the first few years, but beginning next school year every teacher will be evaluated regularly. West Virginia started the evaluation program as a pilot project two years ago, but it had to implement it across the state in order to get the federal waiver.

Governor Tomblin and education officials are chipping away at the stubborn bureaucracy.  Earlier this year, the Legislature passed the education reform bill which, among other things, empowers local schools to hire the most qualified teacher for a position, rather than just the person with the most seniority.

And now the state is getting out from under at least a portion of the impossible federal burden of NCLB. School Board President Wade Linger, who has been one of the key players in the shift, sees progress.

“The whole idea of allowing teachers to teach (with) local control is really happening,” Linger told me.

We can only hope. A top-down system from Washington was never going to work, and the pie-in-the-sky 100 percent proficiency for all students in NCLB is a classic example of the failure.



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  • stophating

    The real problem with education is poverty--1 in 4 children live in poverty. The only answer is Communism--then no rich or poor, all have their needs met by the government.

  • FungoJoe

    "Leave no doubt!!"

    RIP Coach Stew. One year today.

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, let's give our President credit for seeing the utter folly of Bush II's 'No Child Left Behind' law. NCLB, like ObamaCare, was a law passed with the best of intentions but had (or will have) many unintended negative repercussions.

    Can't blame Governor Tomblin for signing WV up for the expanded Medicaid 'deal' offered from ObamaCare (best deal we could get under the circumstances). However, NCLB, like ObamaCare will have some underlying 'unfunded mandates' in them. In the case of ObamaCare, those unfunded mandates will hit the participating private health insurance carriers as well as the Federal and State governments.

    Well, thanks to Obama, at least WV won't have to contend with the failed NCLB anymore. But in the future, the Mountain State WILL have to come up with hundreds of millions dollars more to keep funding expanded Medicare once some future White House Administration (Dem or GOP) 'pulls the rug out' from under us. Don't think Congress will do that? Just ask the jilted Senators from Louisiana, Nebraska and Florida who WON'T be rewarded for their YES votes on ObamaCare with the 'Louisiana Purchase', the 'Cornhusker Kickback' and the 'Gator Grab' respectively.

    • DonaldH

      Ummm, you mean Ted Kennedy and not BushII—Common mistake people make but Kennedy was the actual author in charge of writing that BILL… At least that according to an ABC News Report.
      By Jennifer Parker
      Feb 1, 2008 4:39pm
      ABC News’ Sarah Amos and Jennifer Parker Report: While stumping for his wife at an Arkansas high school Friday, former President Bill Clinton seemed to blame Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., for the failure of the No Child Left Behind Act to live up to its promises.

      • CaptainQ

        But Bush II signed off on it, DonaldH. To quote Harry S Truman about the office of President: "The Buck Stops Here!"

        Got to be fair with the blame game.

        • DonaldH

          True enough, true enough-- but if we are to be "fair with the blame game"-Then one should always mention Ted Kennedy’s name first when blaming those responsible for the follies of NCLB. --To be fair is to be accurate, right?

  • wirerowe

    If the federal government and the state government are going to help fund public education that is a good thing. With that naturally comes some accountability but I think the federal government is too far removed and the state government a little less so from what goes on at the local school level to be dictating policy for every activity at the local school level. We are either going to tturst the local school boards and principals to run our schools or we are going to have layers of beaurcracy on top of others and poor out comes. Free up the locals!

  • mntnman

    “The whole idea of allowing teachers to teach (with) local control is really happening,” Linger told me. The emperor has no clothes.

    This is a misapplication of the truth for public consumption. Those of us actually dealing with the state department know better. Not only is the state taking over more control of the classroom, the fact that the media and public believe it is sad. Just because he said it doesn't make it so.

    The truth is that the state is writing more prescriptive rules, telling superintendents more about how to do things at the local level, and deciding what we will do in the classroom. Example. The calendar law is very clear and without doubt there is no need for further rule making. Well, of course, they are making more rules. The law relating to hiring is pretty clear, no need for rules. Well, of course, we're getting more rules. Not to mention more testing.

    As far as the new evaluation process for teachers, it may occur more often, but it will not do a better job of ferreting out the bad ones. Oh, well...

    For certain, we are going to do all we can at the local level to improve education. We will take what little freedom they have given us and run with it. But we will still be hamstrung by the state, who simply cannot and will not let us do the job. They don't "trust" us to do it, I'm told. Well, given their lack of success in managing the systems they have taken over, I have no faith in them.

    I will say this. I think the state superintendent wants to give us more control. I think he is trying to give us more control. But he works for the state board, and they want the control. So, he can only do so much without risking his job. (By the way, exactly what background does Linger have in education -- none we can discern. You'd think we'd want people that have more than a passing background in education on the state board. And don't give me Manchin, she taught for 30 minutes 30 years ago.)

    • leroy jethro gibbs

      agree , lost of smoke and mirrors

  • ShinnstonGuy

    Isn't it funny how every single day we here someone moaning and groaning about the pains of Obamacare (especially considering the whole thing hasn't even gone into effect yet), but at the same time we seldom here much complaining about NCLB. In my opinion, it was just as confusing and controversial! Perhaps the difference is that it didn't translate into a "tax," as the Captain would say.

    • CaptainQ

      Let's give credit where credit is due, ShinnstonGuy. I wasn't the one who labeled the mandatory health care coverage provision of the ObamaCare law a 'tax,' that was the Supreme Court of the United States that did that in their majority opinion.

      Please don't give ME praise for someone else's work, that's wouldn't be fair.

      • Jim

        I doubt the Supremes will ever take up the question again, but Obamacare is an unconstitutional tax. The constitution clearly states that all bills for raising revenue must originate in the House of Representatives. You will remember that Obamacare was necessarily the Senate bill, which the House didn't want but had to accept, because Robert Byrd passed away and Democrats no longer had a filibuster-proof majority (which would have been needed to pass the House bill).

  • TD

    If you want real improvement in education increase the funding for preschool. A lot of our students are coming from parents, if you want to call them that, who have no idea how to get their child ready. The kids show up for Kindergarten already way behind the rest of the class and NEVER catch up.
    A good preschool teacher and aid can get these kids up to speed so they are ready to learn with the rest of the class. Plus it gets the kids out of, what is often a bad home enviroment, and introduces them to a whole new world. As Obama said in the State of The Union, "you want bang for your buck, let's expand preschool education."

    • hillbilly

      Chew on this..
      When I went to school (60's) there was no kindergarten. We learned reading and writing basics in first grade. Then kindergarten came along, and the beginnings of reading and writing got pushed back to there. Then came Head Start and now PreSchools, and reading and writing basics have gotten pushed back to there.
      Are there any fewer students who struggle with reading now than back then? There are certainly still a large amount of HS dropouts just as back then..

    • leroy jethro gibbs

      sterilization would work better for some people

    • Jim

      "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that."

      -George Carlin

      Head Start is a proven failure. The benefits of preschool disappear completely within two years. This has been known since the 1970s. Half the population is cut out to be below average, and you can't school it out of them. Better to admit the facts and create, and respect, not-so-lofty careers for the people that are suited to them.

  • DonaldH

    Lower the standards? That’s what has our educational system—that’s dead last, in most categories, in the western industrialized world in the mess it is now, by “lowering the standards”—We’ve already “lowered the standards” for every conceivable reason under the sun; cultural reason; ethnicity reason and also reasons to accommodate the whims of the teacher unions and/or their poor work ethic. But BY GAWD we’ll do whatever it takes to athletically develop an inner-city kid to be a star under the Friday Night Lights so he can score a 10 on his ACT and get a full free ride to a public university somewhere…

    Tell me, if the carpenters building your home couldn’t read a tape measure- would you lower the standards for them so they could continue on or would you fire them and replace them with carpenters that COULD read a tape measure?