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Washington State: Applying for Waiver Might ‘Validate’ NCLB

By Alyson Klein — August 15, 2011 1 min read

So not every state is jumping at the chance to participate in the administration’s No Child Left Behind waiver plan.

Washington state is unlikely to line up for a chance to get some wiggle room from (still unspecified) parts of the No Child Left Behind, in exchange for embracing certain (also still unspecified) reforms.

The state hasn’t taken an official position on waivers just yet, said Nathan Olson, a spokesman for the Washington Department of Public Instruction. The Evergreen State is still waiting (along with everyone else) for the details, which are slated to be released next month.

But, “at this point, we probably won’t apply for a waiver,” Olson said in an email. “We want to affect positive change, not negative change. By applying for a waiver, we would be sending a message validating NCLB. Students in Washington state are achieving at higher and higher rates. NCLB’s all-or-nothing approach undercuts that movement. In short, the law is flawed.”

Instead, education officials in Washington state “strongly encourage an overhaul [of the law] as soon as possible,” Olson added.

Politics K-12 translation: Sorry, Mr. Secretary, we’re not gonna play your whole waiver game. We just want this law to change.

Washington’s response is a sharp contrast to the flurry of states—from Minnesota to South Carolina—that have said they’d like to apply for waivers. Will Washington be an anomaly? Or will other states follow its lead? And does applying for a waiver mean a state is “validating” NCLB?