LULAC Gives ESEA Waivers an “F”

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White paper raises concerns over the Department of Education’s waiver system that leaves behind minority and underserved communities.

Campaign for High School Equity

The Department of Education needs to heed the recommendations of the report and strengthen the accountability parameters for this waiver policy.

This week, as part of the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), LULAC joined nine other civil rights organizations in releasing a white paper that analyzes the Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver practices. The white paper entitled, Maintaining a Focus on Subgroups in an Era of Elementary and Secondary Education Act Waivers, raises serious concerns over the lack of vigor in accountability measures used by states.

Since 2011, the Department of Education has been issuing states waivers that exempt them from certain requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. The unintended consequences of these waivers is that many states, as noted in the report, are now implementing radically different, and at times, inadequate accountability systems that leave vulnerable students at risk of being left behind their peers. In fact, the report highlights disturbing trends in state accountability waivers and raises serious concerns over the reduced emphasis on the academic performance and growth of all students. In several states, it appears waivers could lead to fewer students of color receiving the supports they need to succeed in school. For example, in 11 waiver states the number of schools identified for intervention has dropped by more than 100 schools. LULAC and nine other civil rights organizations calls for immediate actions to ensure schools are held accountable.

“Our primary concern is that the waiver policies in effect now permit states to implement accountability systems that allow them to place less emphasis on the academic performance of Latinos, and other under-served students,” said LULAC National President Margaret Moran. “These waivers do not reflect a positive step forward from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. In fact, in terms of accountability, these waivers fall way short of the much maligned measures of NCLB. If they are to work, the Department of Education needs to heed the recommendations of the report and strengthen the accountability parameters for this waiver policy.”

LULAC has issued a call to action to its over 135,000 members in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, requesting that they contact their Member of Congress to highlight the concerns in the report and urge Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

To read a copy of the Campaign for High School Equity’s white paper, click here.

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Paloma Zuleta
LULAC
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