WASHINGTON -- It could be the beginning of the end for No Child Left Behind.
The goal was lofty: Get all children up to par in math and reading by 2014. But the nation isn't getting there, and now some states are getting out.
In a sign of what's to come, President Barack Obama on Thursday freed 10 states from some of the landmark law's toughest requirements. Those states, which had to commit to their own, federally approved plans, will now be free to judge students with methods other than test scores. They also will be able to factor in subjects beyond reading and math.
"We can combine greater freedom with greater accountability," Obama said from the White House. Plenty more states are bound to take him up on the offer.
While many educators and many governors celebrated, congressional Republicans accused Obama of executive overreach, and education and civil rights groups questioned if schools would be getting a pass on aggressively helping poor and minority children -- the kids the 2002 law was primarily designed to help.
The first 10 states to be declared free from the education law are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The only state that applied for the flexibility and did not get it, New Mexico, is working with the administration to get approval.
Twenty-eight other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signaled that they, too, plan to flee the law in favor of their own plans. South Carolina is to request freedom from the law, but must do so by Feb. 23.