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Connecticut Wants No Child Left Behind Waiver

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Educators and lawmakers across Fairfield County support Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s decision to apply for a federal waiver from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind mandate.

Approved under the administration of former President George W. Bush, the No Child Left Behind Act requires all students at all schools to achieve proficiency by 2014 and places a series of sanctions and federal funding restrictions on schools that do not meet that goal.

“The idea was noble, but it was very difficult to meet the mandated requirements because there was no funding provided to help local school districts,” said Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Jack Chiaramonte.

Chiaramonte said No Child Left Behind has not worked, and he supports the state’s efforts to seek a waiver.

“It has resulted in students being pushed ahead when they aren’t really ready,” said Chiaramonte. “That was not the intention, but that has been the result. Thank God the state is seeking a waiver.”

State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, ranking member of the legislature’s Education and Higher Education Committees, said she also supports seeking an exemption from No Child Left Behind.

“Many states are seeking the waiver, and I think now that we are planning real education reforms, that the timing is right to seek the exemption,” said Boucher, whose district also includes Westport, New Canaan and Weston. “But if we weren’t taking those steps, I don’t think I could support it."

Stamford’s Interim Superintendent of Schools Winifred Hamilton, who praised Malloy's education reform efforts, said, “The waiver raises several issues that need to be worked through, such as the number of assessments that will need to be created, the amount of new testing required and how much funding will be available to fulfill the terms of the waiver. I am confident these questions will be addressed and workable solutions will be found."

If Connecticut’s request for a waiver is approved, the state will have the flexibility to design a new system of accountability, support and intervention in schools and target federal funds to meet student needs more effectively, state officials said.

“Connecticut’s submission of the waiver request is a critical next step for enacting real education reforms that will lead to dramatic gains for Connecticut’s students,” said Malloy. “Combined with our state legislative package, the plans in the application will help our state improve our education system, better position our young people for the jobs of tomorrow, and, as a result, enhance our economic competitiveness.”

State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said, “Our application presents and, if successful, will advance the important activities and reforms currently under way in our state."

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