WASHINGTON - Members of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) are voicing concerns over what is says are efforts lead by the Department of Education that could have negative impact for low income and minority youth.
According to LULAC, the Department of Education’s recent efforts to provide relief to state and local education agencies from key provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has the potential to water down the law’s clear guidelines that ensure Latino and ELL students receive a quality education.
The waivers, as provided by the Department of Education, could provide flexibility for schools to ignore the needs of Latino and ELL students across the country, a statement issued by the largest Hispanic membership group in the U.S. said.
“We are concerned that the Department of Education has offered no clear guidance regarding what kind of flexibility will be approved through the waivers. As a group that represents Latino students, we cannot be more clear, we cannot trade off holding schools accountable for the education of our kids. States must still be required to have strong accountability systems that include all sub-groups of students currently included under NCLB, and resources devoted to these subgroups of students,” said LULAC President Margaret Moran.
Currently, NCLB calls for all students to be proficient in math and language arts by 2014. The Department has indicated that states may apply to waive, or extend, that proficiency target, as well as, ceasing to enforce the current school improvement requirements set forth in NCLB. The Department’s proposed alternative to states and districts to propose their own accountability system could be particularly harmful to the 650,000 minority and low income students that currently attend schools with large achievement gaps. For example, a critical and highly praised component of NCLB is the requirement that every classroom be equipped with a highly qualified teacher. It is these kinds of resources that are vital for kids in poor districts to receive a quality education. Should the Department waive the high-qualified teacher requirement, low income students would be left vulnerable to unqualified teachers that often lack the experience and skills to meet their needs.
“It is disappointing that the Department of Education would propose this kind of flexibility. A move that will undoubtedly worsen the educational divide in this country; a chasm that allows the affluent to receive a better education than poor and minority students,” said President Margaret Moran.