SFUSD could receive federal rule waiver independent of state

The San Francisco Unified School District could be considered for a No Child Left Behind waiver independent of the state.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is talking with school districts about how to free them from unworkable parts of the federal law, signaling he is open to an approach he long tried to avoid.

The Education Department has given 34 states and the District of Columbia permission to ignore parts of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, and eight others have waiver applications pending ahead of next week’s application deadline. But that still leaves eight states — giants California and Texas among them — operating under the law and set to fall short of its requirements, such as all students being proficient in math and reading by 2014.

The next step could be allowing school districts themselves to petition for exemptions from national requirements that states are all but certain to fail to meet.

“I’m not saying we are going to go down that path,” Duncan said Thursday before trailing off, “but if we go down that path. …”

District superintendents met with federal officials Wednesday in Washington. D.C., to talk through options, and Duncan joined them for 30 minutes of face-to-face discussion.

That 10-district group includes San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento districts and represents 1.2 million of the state’s 6 million students.

Duncan has repeatedly said that he doesn’t want his department to get into district-by-district decisions. Such a shift to approving local projects would potentially add huge workloads to the department.

San Francisco needs to plan for 80,000 homes. Where will they go?

West side neighborhoods could be transformed by the ‘Housing Element’

What happens when a pandemic becomes endemic? S.F.’s top health official weighs in

Dr. Susan Philip envisions a city that will manage this ongoing disease