Boston Superintendent: Parents shouldn’t worry

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(NECN: Alison King) – “In September, after waiting far too long for congress to act, I announced that my administration would take steps to reform no child left behind on our own,” said President Obama on Thursday.

The result?  President Obama is freeing ten states from the “no child left behind” education law, which was signed with great fanfare in 2002 by President Bush when it was celebrated at the Boston Latin school with the late senator Ted Kennedy.

Obama said the goals of no child left behind were good ones:  promoting high standards, accountability and closing the achievement gap.

“But we’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t force teachers to teach to the test. Or encourage school to lower their standards in order to avoid being labeled failures. That doesn’t help anybody,” Obama said as he addressed the nation.

It was supposed to be that 2014 was the year no child would be left behind, but the President’s action strips away that requirement for the ten states that received waivers, provided they offer a viable plan instead.

“So Massachusetts, for example, has set a goal to cut the number of underperforming students in half over the next six years. I like that goal,” Obama said.

“It does change the 2014 deadline to 2016/17 but it absolutely puts additional performance pieces in place that really have to do with closing the proficiency gap,” said Boston School Superintendent Carol Johnson.

She supports the Obama decision, which she said will help cities and towns focus in on the neediest schools and neediest students.

“Parents absolutely should not feel that any of the standards are lower,” Johnson said.

“I think parents should be concerned about the impact on their schools and their students ultimately,” said Jim Stergios, Pioneer Institute’s executive director.

His different perspective acknowledges that closing the achievement gap is a worthy goal,  but at what expense.

“It used to be that Massachusetts would say, let’s have all students rise up and let’s make sure sub groups such as African Americans and Hispanics are rising faster than whites,” said Stergios. “Right now, what we’re seeing is a dumbing down of our standards and so maybe we can bridge that gap, but we’re lowering the high end.”

Seen in New England Cable News.