The Education Trust—West Statement as State Board Considers California’s Application for a Waiver of No Child Left Behind


OAKLAND, CA (May 9, 2012) The Education Trust—West issued the following statement as the California State Board of Education considers an application for a waiver of No Child Left Behind:

“On Thursday, the California Department of Education and State Board President Mike Kirst will present a proposal to the State Board of Education to apply for a waiver of No Child Left Behind.  Unlike the 37 states and the District of Columbia who have already submitted waiver applications, this request will not meet the requirements of the Obama administration’s waiver application process. Unlike the leaders of these 37 states and the three additional states who have committed to following this application process, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Board President Mike Kirst will ask for a “special” waiver that provides California with flexibility from federal law for essentially doing nothing.  Rather than committing to the development of concrete plans to improve student outcomes, close achievement gaps, and prepare all students for college and career, California’s education leaders will complain about the state budget crisis and rehash disturbing, old arguments about federal interference with state’s rights and local control.”

“These complaints may momentarily mask how little progress, in comparison to other states, California has made in implementing the common-sense strategies necessary to submit a successful waiver application. This includes implementing the Common Core, developing a robust school accountability system designed to close achievement gaps, targeting supports to our highest need schools, and reforming our teacher and principal evaluation systems.”

“However, they will not mask the fact that California continues to have some of the widest achievement gaps and lowest student performance of any state in the nation. Nor will they disguise the lack of focus of our state education leaders, including Governor Brown, on improving student results, particularly for students of color and low-income students. And they certainly will not mask the absurdity of this ‘special’ request and the additional collateral damage it will cause to California’s sinking national reputation on education issues. Indeed, should the state submit this ‘California-only’ waiver application, it will likely be applying for little more than irrelevancy. For those schools and districts that would benefit from a federal waiver, this result would be disastrous. We urge members of the State Board to reject the ‘California-specific’ waiver proposal. We further urge the Board to direct the State Department of Education to submit a waiver application that adheres to federal guidelines and has a chance of approval. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.”

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About The Education Trust—West

The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.