When the No Child Left Behind law was enacted in 2004, many schools across the country made half-hearted overtures toward meeting the requirements (claiming their biggest gains would be seen in the final push), but banking on the notion the deadline would never come.
Wouldn't you know it? It looks like 2014 has been postponed.
The year will still come and go, but the teeth of the national education act have been filed down to the nubs.
Last week, President Obama offered waivers to states that give them an out if they're not performing to NCLB's minimum requirements.
We're not especially outraged by this move or even surprised. No, the correct word to describe our reaction would be disappointed.
For clarification, we don't think NCLB was the silver bullet when it comes to education, but at least it was ammunition and we had something to shoot at.
What we now have is more excuses -- and mediocrity.
Yes, the new waivers have strings attached. States that use the escape hatch will have new requirements to meet and different hoops to jump through in exchange for their reprieve.
But the administration's leniency won't solve our educational system's woes.
We have no confidence that the new plan will be any better than the old one.
We don't have a corner on the market when it comes to disappointment over the nation's schools. Frustration with the education system is widespread.
Parents, educators and administrators across the country share the feeling. Some have gone as far as to refuse to comply with the federal mandates.
According to the Boston Globe, "Montana education officials defiantly informed Washington, D.C., this spring that they would stop raising testing targets as the law requires, despite warnings that doing so could cost the state millions of dollars in federal aid."
That's one state the waiver system can help.
However, the frustration with education in general should not be misconstrued to say that all schools are failing.
It's true that many schools are working very hard and seeing some progress.
But it also is true that overall, our education system is not producing the scientists, engineers and mathematicians that we need to sustain our high-tech industries.
When it comes to meeting our country's employment needs, we're just not getting it done.
Carpeting the country with waivers from federal requirements won't bring us any closer.
If NCLB isn't working, either fix it or find a better way to address the needs of America's children. And do it soon.
The next generation's real test is whether it can succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy.
There's no waiver for that.