WASHINGTON Nov 15 A majority of U.S. states
intend to opt out of the federal education law known as No
Child Left Behind, and 11 have already made formal requests to
take advantage of the waivers President Barack Obama offered in
September, the Education Department said on Tuesday.
The waivers will allow states to set their own proficiency
standards instead of those mandated by the Bush-era law. They
will also have more flexibility in spending federal education
"We set a high bar and an aggressive deadline, but these
states rose to the challenge," Education Secretary Arne Duncan
said in a statement. The 11 states are Colorado, Florida,
Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New
Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Critics have said No Child Left Behind is inflexible,
requiring teachers to adhere to a narrow curriculum targeted
mostly at ensuring that every student pass standardized tests.
They also say it has placed too large a burden on the states.
The Education Department will begin a peer review of the
waiver requests after the Thanksgiving holiday and make the
final decisions by mid-January. It said 39 states, Washington,
D.C., and Puerto Rico have all expressed interest in the
The law expired four years ago, and Congress has failed to
agree on a new version. Meanwhile, Obama has been quietly
revising federal education spending through grant programs such
as "Race to the Top."
Obama and Duncan have promoted learning standards and
testing, cornerstones of the contentious legislation passed by
both parties in 2002 and championed by one of Obama's greatest
political supporters, the late Senator Edward Kennedy.
But in September, Obama said that students could not wait
for Congress to pass a new authorization and fix the law's