On September 22, President Obama announced that states would be allowed to apply for waivers to be exempt from No Child Left Behind’s requirement that all children be proficient in reading and math by 2014. These waivers would only be granted when states develop standards to prepare students for college and careers and to evaluate teachers and principals. Education secretary Arne Duncan said that the waivers are intended to provide a bridge between the current law and new legislation by Congress.
In a speech announcing the decision, Obama criticized No Child Left Behind for requiring teachers to teach to the test and to limit education in history and science. He said “This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability. If states want more flexibility, they’re going to have to set higher standards, more honest standards that prove they’re serious about meeting them.”
Congressional leaders criticized the announcement on the grounds that the president is overstepping his powers. Representative John Kline of Minnesota said “In my judgment, he is exercising an authority and power he doesn’t have.” However, officials from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Idaho, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin have stated that they would probably seek waivers.