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Governors, State Chiefs Renew Plea for NCLB Rewrite

Ten organizations representing governors, state chiefs, and other state and local government officials are once again urging Congress to update the No Child Left Behind Act, but this time are using harsher criticism about the Obama administration's waiver program.

In a Feb. 4 letter to congressional leadership, the groups called reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which NCLB is the current version, "truly 'must pass' legislation."

The letter was signed by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National School Boards Association, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities, among others.

The letter is almost a reprint of the one the groups sent in May, except for a harsher tone taken on waivers. And, the letter comes the same week the U.S. Senate is planning to conduct hearings on the NCLB law waivers.

Many of these same groups cheered when the U.S. Department of Education created a waiver program to give states wiggle room under the law. So far, 34 states plus the District of Columbia have gotten waivers. But, the groups said in yesterday's letter:

Without changes to NCLB, many states turned to the immediate flexibility offered by the U.S. Department of Education through the waiver process. Waivers will work for some states, but will not work for all. Moreover, waivers only provide temporary relief from specific provisions of the law and in exchange require new criteria of states, school districts, and schools not formally authorized in NCLB or by Congress.

The waiver rhetoric was ramped up from last year's letter. This time, the groups are stressing that the department created "new criteria ... not formally authorized in NCLB or by Congress."

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