NSBA, AASA champion national petition drive to deregulate No Child Left Behind law


The National School Boards Association and the American Association of School Administrators have joined forces to launch a nationwide petition drive calling on U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to use his administrative authority to set aside costly and nonproductive regulations under the No Child Left Behind Act before schools open in the fall. It’s a simple, three-step process.

1. Adopt the resolution and send it to Secretary Arne Duncan arne.duncan@ed.gov at the U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202 and copy Kathleen Branch kbranch@nsba.org so that we can stay abreast of how the campaign is going.

2. Send a copy of the resolution to your senators and representatives in Congress with a cover letter explaining the need for deregulation through general rules by the Department of Education—not waivers. (You can use NSBA’s Online Guide to Congress to send the resolution via e-mail to your members of Congress, which automatically cc’s Kathleen Branch. E-mail is preferred as regular U.S. mail can take several weeks to reach your members of Congress.)

3. Make sure you register your action on the online petition located on the AASA website AASA. You can sign the petition as an individual or have your school board adopt it as a formal resolution. While immediate action is highly desirable, certainly the time of your next school board meeting is sufficient if you wish to adopt a school board resolution.

Why We’re Calling for Deregulation

This effort is especially important since it is highly unlikely (at best) that Congress will reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—which contains the NCLB requirements—within the next two months. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that 82 percent of the nation’s schools will fail to make the Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB as the flawed performance bar rises. As a result, many schools will be labeled as failing, with many of those facing costly sanctions. Those sanctions would include, for example, choice and supplemental education services, which have proven to be educationally lacking mandates and take 20 percent of schools’ Title I dollars out of the classroom at the very time that school districts budgets are being cut.

Secretary Duncan’s Response

Secretary Duncan, in recognition of the problem and the effort by our two organizations, has announced plans to deregulate various—but yet unspecified—requirements of NCLB. His general approach would be to offer a state deregulation in the form of a waiver in exchange for its commitment to address educational reform. It is not clear yet whether all areas of deregulation that the secretary intends to offer will go through a state-initiated application procedure or whether specific provisions—like the 20 supplemental service set-aside—will be deregulated by a general Department of Education rule (which is what we advocate).

Why Your Action Is Important

For the effort is to be successful, the right requirements must be deregulated and deregulation must occur in the right way. For example, we are concerned that for some requirements, like SES, a state application won’t be approved and be made available to the local level before school districts engage in outreach activities and obligate themselves to contracts before school opens. Further, a state may not be able to financially or policy-wise meet the reform requirements that the Department of Education wants in exchange for waiving a local requirement like SES.

As a result, we believe that it is important that a large number of school boards adopt a resolution—calling on Secretary Duncan to deregulate the program and thereby underscore the importance of a locally focused approach that will be effective at the local level as well as to strengthen the position of our associations to work with the Department of Education on the specifics.

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