School Leaders Eagerly Await 'No Child' Waiver

Greensboro, NC -- State education leaders might not be sitting by the phone, but they are eagerly awaiting a call from Washington, DC.

North Carolina is one of dozens of states that asked for a waiver from parts of No Child Left Behind back in February. That waiver from the US Department of Education should come any day now. But why do so many states and schools want to opt-out of a program designed to improve education?

It all basically boils down to a struggle for money and control. Guilford County Schools leaders say No Child Left Behind actually makes it harder to serve the students who need the most help.

Under the legislation, schools have to pay for special tutoring for students who are in low-performing schools that also have high numbers of students getting free or reduced lunch. Other struggling kids at those schools who can afford their lunches don't get the tutoring help.

When North Carolina gets that waiver, school systems will get the flexibility to spend the money they're using for that tutoring to reach all the students at those high-poverty, low-performing schools who need it. The waiver also gives school districts the chance to opt-out of paying to transport students at low-performing schools to another of the district's schools that's doing better.

In Guilford Co., kids in that School Choice program can stay in it, but they'll just have to get their own rides. If they can't, school leaders say parents shouldn't worry.

"With all the things that we plan on doing within these schools, we will improve that school's performance," Erik Nagley, the director of Guilford Co. Schools' Title One program said. "And we will be able to create an environment that's community-oriented, bringing the students back close. And we will be able to wrap around and provide additional supports to make both the students successful, as well as the school."

With the waiver, Guilford Co. Schools stand to have $4 million to spend on boosting student achievement. About 23,500 students -- or a third of students in Guilford County -- attend one of these high-poverty schools. They stand to benefit most, since it's pretty much a slam dunk that North Carolina will get that waiver.


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