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Kitzhaber promises to seek No Child Left Behind waiver

Oregon will apply for a state exemption from No Child Left Behind

Oregon will apply for a state exemption from the No Child Left Behind accountability law, Gov. John Kitzhaber told a crowd of educators, business people and elected leaders last week.

'I'll fight for a waiver from NCLB,' he told the crowd of about 150, who responded with loud applause. 'I wrote (U.S. Secretary of Education) Arne Duncan a couple weeks ago. I'll follow up in October in Washington, D.C.'

Kitzhaber was speaking to special meeting of the Cradle to Career Council - the body of countywide leaders who are working on efforts to improve outcomes for youth, from birth to post-secondary school or college and then work.

Kitzhaber spokeswoman Sarah Carlin Ames clarified that Kitzhaber spoke by phone with Duncan, and a conference call will be scheduled for the fall between Kitzhaber's staff and the Department of Education.

Since Congress failed to rewrite the 2002 accountability law proposed by President George W. Bush, Duncan announced last month that he would allow states to seek an exemption from the primary part of the NCLB law, which requires that 100 percent of students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. States must have their own testing and accountability measures in place.

Critics of NCLB, including local educators, say it's a one-size-fits-all mandate that has many unintended consequences, like sending schools labeled as 'failing' into a downward spiral.

'Today's standardized tests, I think, are overemphasized and very, very simplistic,' Kitzhaber said.