July 24th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Thank you, Sally Ride

By Meg Urry, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Meg Urry is the Israel Munson professor of physics and astronomy and chairwoman of the Department of Physics at Yale University, where she is the director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

(CNN) - Sitting in a meeting at NASA's Science Advisory Committee on Monday afternoon, I heard the news that Sally Ride had died. She was important to everyone in that room - mostly space scientists and NASA officials. But for a handful of women like me, she was an irreplaceable leader.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies

Sally Ride wasn't the first woman to go into space, or to want to do so, much less the first woman qualified to do so. She would have been the first to tell you that. But as the first U.S. woman in space, on STS-7, the seventh flight of America's new space shuttle, she was the first woman astronaut most Americans knew about. And she used that fame for good.

Learn the impact Sally Ride had on science education for girls: FULL STORY
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More states and D.C. receive NCLB waivers; Vermont, Alabama, Nebraska reject them
July 24th, 2012
06:06 AM ET

More states and D.C. receive NCLB waivers; Vermont, Alabama, Nebraska reject them

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - The White House announced on Thursday that it would grant seven additional waivers from restrictive provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. will receive the newest flexibility waivers, according to a U.S. Department of Education press release. To date, 32 states and D.C. have received waivers.

The NCLB law, also known as the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA), has many sections, and through these waivers, federal officials are allowing states to set their own standards for parts of the law. The waivers aren’t an automatic reprieve from all aspects of NCLB.

In order to receive these ESEA flexibility waivers, states provided evidence that they would initiate education reform efforts approved by the Obama administration, including linking student test scores to teacher evaluations.

Many supporters of the 2002 law say that the intent of NCLB is to improve education for all students, including poor and minority students, but critics contend that the law has created a “teach to the test” culture in too many classrooms.

Read more about NCLB and NCLB waivers

States are asking for waivers because they consider NCLB’s goals unattainable or even unrealistic. The law mandates that all students be proficient in reading by the end of third grade by 2014, and that all students will graduate from high school. States are far from accomplishing these goals; almost half of America’s schools are failing to meet these NCLB mandates.

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Filed under: Issues • NCLB • Policy