No Child Left Behind Waiver

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COLUMBIA - Missouri education leaders tried to get ahead Friday - of No Child Left Behind. For the first time ever, the federal government is allowing states to apply for No Child Left Behind waivers.

Waivers would allow local schools, like Columbia, to bypass some of No Child Left Behind's standards, and set their their own.

What the waiver boils down to, is educational power - and who holds that power.  

"Right now, we're required - because of a federal mandate - to spend monies on transportation to other schools, and providing supplemental educational services, and that costs us about half a million dollars a year. They're not effective. They're not monitored. There's no accountability. It gives us control of that $50,000 back," Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Christ Belcher said.

But the Missouri State Teachers Association has a different idea when it comes to the No Child Left Behind waiver.

"I think that some of the requirements and regulations with this particular waiver are going to affect districts in a fairly negative way, and I don't think they (waiver supporters) realize that yet," MSTA's Todd Fuller said.

The MSTA posted a blog post Friday as well, encouraging members to voice their opposition to the waiver.

The State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said funding for new provisions would stem from current school improvement programs, and not cost the state any more money. Communications Coordinator Michele Clark said the "one-size-fits-all approach" isn't working, and that the state doesn't want to change one flawed program, for another.

The the MSTA said, not so fast.

"No one has heard about the cost that will be incurred on the state, and then most importantly, the cost that will be incurred on the district - and that's a concern," Fuller said.

"It simply says, we will guarantee to the federal government that we will do these things in order not to be held accountable to the mandates of the past," Belcher said.

While the two sides disagree of the facts, Missouri has until February 28th to file for a waiver.

Here's a link to Missouri's State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's current proposal.