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U.S. Department of Education Waiver Policy: Why Communities of Color and Native Communities Should Pay Attention


Jacqueline Ayers, Legislative Director, National Urban League Policy Institute
Erika Beltrán, Senior Policy Analyst, National Council of La Raza
Phillip Lovell, Vice President of Federal Advocacy, Alliance for Excellent Education
Dianne Piche, Senior Counsel, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The most recent authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), known as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, expired in 2007. Since then, the U.S. Congress has been working to renew the law, with recent activity happening both in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. However, Congress has not yet fully authorized a new bill and it is unclear when it will happen.

In absence of a full reauthorization, the Obama administration has offered states flexibility within ten specific provisions of NCLB in exchange for state-led reform activities in the areas of high standards, accountability and school improvement, teacher evaluation, and reporting requirements. As states move forward submitting their applications to the U.S. Department of Education (ED), it is imperative that communities of color and Native communities are consulted and help implement the reform activities required. Black, Latino, and Native students have high school graduation rates less than 60 percent, and of those students who do graduate, the majority of them are not adequately prepared to succeed in college or the workplace. It is important that these communities understand the reform activities that will have an adverse effect on students of color and Native students.

Hear from representatives from the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Urban League. The panelists discussed the current political dynamics, details of the waiver package, and strategies of how communities of color and Native communities can work together and with their states to incorporate reform. Panelists also answered questions submitted by viewers.

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