SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Eight California school districts are being given more time to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, but critics say all California schools should have been given a waiver. According to Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, the U.S. Department of Education has chosen to bypass the governor and the state superintendent, and engage in a piecemeal approach.
“This continues this top-down, one-size-fits-all approach for districts, which we think in the long run is not going to work,” Pechthalt declared.
According to State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, all California schools deserve relief from what he called the unworkable mandates of No Child Left Behind, and Congress should make revising the policy a priority. The U.S. Department of Education has twice refused to grant No Child Left Behind waivers to the entire state of California.
Pechthalt said he believes there’s now a fairly broad consensus among those who think the reforms from No Child Left Behind have been destructive.
He said NCLB has been “a stick to encourage reform rather than incentivizing reform, and the whole sort of testing mania that came out of that has been, I think, just uniformly destructive. And I say that as a union leader, as a teacher for more than 20 years and as a parent.”
Pechthalt said the California Federation of Teachers supports finding alternatives to No Child Left Behind.
“We want to be partners in school reform,” he said. “We have ideas. We spend our careers working with children in the classroom. We want what’s best for our kids and we want to see improvements in public education.”
In exchange for the one-year waiver, the eight districts – which include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach, Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento, Santa Ana and Sanger – must implement their own measures of accountability and monitor their own progress.
More information is at CFT.org and at cde.ca.gov.