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Kitzhaber, Castillo ready to take advantage of education flexibility plan

Less than two weeks after Gov. John Kitzhaber said he would seek a state exemption from the federal No Child Left Behind accountability law, President Obama officially announced details of the flexibility plan.

State Superintendent of Education Susan Castillo joined Obama and other education leaders at the White House for the Friday morning announcement.

Rather than call it an 'exemption' or 'waiver,' Obama said states could request 'flexibility and opportunities for innovation,' under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, formerly known as No Child Left Behind.

'Under this new plan, states may request flexibility from specific mandates but will be expected to maintain a strong commitment to accountability and high standards for all students,' according to Castillo's office.

'While I agree with the President that No Child Left Behind had the right goals - accountability, high standards for all kids, and a focus on closing the achievement gap - I also agree that there are real challenges with this decade-old law,' Castillo said.

'The President understands that as we look at improving educational outcomes in our nation, we need a system that supports and encourages innovation, that rewards rather than penalizes increasing our standards, and that puts the focus back on learning and individual student growth.

'Our state has made a firm commitment to college- and career-ready standards for all kids with the implementation of the essential skills and the adoption of the common core state standards. Gov. Kitzhaber and I are already working on a federal waiver proposal to provide Oregon schools with the flexibility they deserve as they work to reach these critical goals.'

Earlier this month, Kitzhaber drew a loud round of applause from local business, community and education leaders upon mentioning that he intends to 'fight for a waiver from NCLB.'

Kitzhaber said he would work on the effort this fall.


For details on the U.S. Department of Education's new plan, see:

www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/23/fact-sheet-bringing-flexibility-and-focus-education-law