State Challenges Seen as Whittling Away Federal Education Law

As hundreds of schools here and across the nation faced being labeled failures under the federal No Child Left Behind law, Montana education officials defiantly informed Washington this spring that they would stop raising testing targets as the law requires, despite warnings that doing so could cost the state millions of dollars in federal aid.

But in an agreement to be announced here on Monday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will allow Montana to keep most of the schools off the law’s blacklist, and the state will pay no penalty.

With several other Western states also rebelling against the requirement that 100 percent of American students be proficient in English and math by 2014, some education officials and experts see signs that years of federal dominance of public school accountability may be drawing to a close.

“Pretty soon all the schools will be failing in America, and at that point the law becomes meaningless,” said Larry K. Shumway, superintendent of public instruction in Utah. “States are going to sit and watch federal accountability implode. We’re seeing the end of an era.”

It is no secret that the Obama administration dislikes many provisions of the No Child law, which President George W. Bush signed in 2002 and vigorously enforced, in court and with fines against states — including Texas, his own. Read more>>

Via Sam Dillon, New York Times