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November 10, 2011

On November 9, New Jersey advocates cited many problems with the state's draft application for an NCLB waiver. The state released the draft Nov. 3, claiming it will meet the Nov. 14 deadline for the first applications, and allowed a mere five days for public comment, including the weekend.

Because NCLB is acknowledged as a burdensome failure, 39 states, DC, and Puerto Rico say they will submit waiver applications, with 16 planning to finish by Nov. 14 and the rest in mid-Feb.

New Jersey

Incomplete and appearing hurried, the NJDOE draft fails to meet some of the U.S. Department of Education's waiver application requirements, such as sufficient public outreach, and listing the schools that would be identified as "priority" and "focus" schools based on current data.

The draft also indicates the state would suspend NCLB's "highly qualified teacher" requirements and replace them with an untested evaluation system currently in the pilot stage.

In its comments, ELC (Education Law Center) urged the NJDOE to defer submission of the application from Nov. 14 to the next application window in mid-February to address these concerns and obtain public input and support. Additional comments from Rutgers Law Professor Paul Tractenberg and the Patterson (NJ) Education Fund note the abrupt public process and raise several issues and challenge the draft's promises on matters that would require legislative action.

"A proposal that will have such far-reaching impact on our students and schools deserves a full and complete presentation of the specifics of the plan, with ample opportunity for legislative review and public input," said ELC Executive Director David G. Sciarra. "A sketchy outline with five days for comment is simply unacceptable."

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So far, California is not planning to submit a waiver application, based in part on its own determination that implementation of the waiver requirements would mean about $3 billion in additional costs.

For a summary of the waivers and the applications, see Frequently Asked Questions regarding ... Plan to Waive Major ESEA Requirements, from the Center on Education Policy.

Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19

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