We move to abolish the testing provisions of No Child Left Behind.
Seeing no objections, the motion passes. Bang the gavel and move on.
If only it were that easy.
Everyone — teachers, administrators, governors, plus Republican and Democratic lawmakers — realizes the accountability provisions of the decade-old law are not working.
But changing the law takes congressional action, and that branch of government seems capable of little more than reckless posturing at the moment.
President Barack Obama asked Congress to change the law 17 months ago. No action yet.
Tuesday, Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, about as conservative an advocate of educational reform as you'll find, said the law must change.
Bowen says he may seek a waiver from NCLB's testing provisions, which is the only remedy now available to states.
The original goals of the Bush-era program were laudable, and the original law passed with bipartisan support. That's right, a Republican president came up with an idea and Democrats and Republicans in Congress supported it.
Boy, those were the days.
President George W. Bush had denounced what he called the "soft bigotry of low expectations."
The meaning was clear, that we should have the same expectations of children in poor neighborhoods as we have in wealthy school districts.
Unfortunately, another reality soon became clear: The money to accomplish these goals had also been left behind.
The expectations of NCLB's strict testing regimen have, however, marched steadily forward. The original law dramatically declared that 100 percent of students would be reading and doing math at their appropriate age level by 2014.
Each year, the threshold for success gets higher. Schools not reaching the law's standards two years in a row are labeled "failing schools."
Last year, 113 of 635 public schools in Maine failed. That number is expected to double each year until practically every school in the state fails.
That is not a formula for success.
Bowen and others in Maine have called for a new standard that emphasizes individual achievement over mass test taking.
A teacher and a school should be responsible for moving each student's achievement a certain distance over the course of a school year.
That means we need to have different annual goals for a student who does not speak English and who joins a class in the middle of a year than we do for other children in the class.
The expectations for all students should be high, but the expectations must be different.
Maine should seek a waiver from the testing provisions of NCLB, and it should begin work to develop its own testing system or adopt a system used by another state.
We can do better.