|For Immediate Release|
|Tuesday, September 12, 1995|
Massachusetts Receives Historic Authority to Waive Federal Education Rules
Malden - Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Robert V. Antonucci announced today that the US Department of Education has given the state flexibility unprecedented in Massachusetts history to waive major federal educational statutes regulations.
Massachusetts has been named an Educational Flexibility Demonstration State ("Ed-Flex"), joining the state of Oregon as the only two states in the country in which the US Secretary of Education has turned over his authority to waive certain federal regulations to the state Commissioner of Education.
The decision is announced as a result of many months of collaborative work between the State and Federal Departments of Education. The delegation of authority is good for five years.
"We are delighted with this news because Massachusetts Education Reform will be stimulated by this new authority," stated Commissioner Antonucci. "I intend to ask all Massachusetts school districts to let me know immediately which of the federal as well as state regulations they wish to waive, and I will look at these requests positively and speedily. My commitment is that the burdens stop here," Antonucci stated.
The Massachusetts Ed-Flex award fits into the broader context of statewide educational improvement initiated by the landmark Education Reform Act of 1993. The Massachusetts Education Reform Act established a new type of relationship between the state, school districts and the schools. Instead of traditional efforts to improve education through disjointed grants and regulations, the Education Reform Act supports schools in making substantial structural changes and provides flexibility so long as they meet high standards for student performance.
Commissioner Antonucci and the Board of Education have been making efforts over the past several years to streamline and eliminate unnecessary and obsolete state rules and regulations. In June of this year, the Board repealed eleven sets of obsolete state regulations, and consolidated four separate ones on racial imbalance into one. With Ed-Flex status, this process will be taken one step further to include certain federal mandates as well.
"At the heart of this reform process is quality education for students. Having this new authority to waive federal and state regulations will help us achieve this goal," Antonucci said.
The federal regulations and the underlying statutes themselves, are eligible to be waived. These are the programs eligible: Title I ( formerly Chapter I), Title II (Eisenhower Professional Development), Title IV (Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities), Title VI (formerly Chapter II), Part C of Title VII (Emergency Immigrant Education), and the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act. Not included are policies governing civil rights, special education and the distribution of federal funds to local school districts.
In a letter sent to Commissioner Antonucci today, Secretary Riley wrote, "Massachusetts has demonstrated its commitment to promoting flexibility, accountability and effective innovation in order to promote teaching and learning. Moreover, the state has put forth a strong plan for using federal waiver authority effectively. "