"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, June 24, 2011

Duncan's Extortion Plan for NCLB Waivers Faces Roadblock

I was wondering if Congress would ever notice Gates and Broad carrying away K-12 education policy.  After all, Team 2 (R) has its own group of oligarchs to pay homage to, and they will not stand by and see Team 1 (D) carve off all the good pieces of this multi-billion dollar goose called public schools.  From the NY Times:
In a sharp rebuke to the Obama administration, the Republican chairman of the House education committee on Thursday challenged plans by the education secretary to override provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Law, and he said he would use a House rewrite of it this year to rein in the secretary’s influence on America’s schools.

Responding to Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s promise to grant states waivers to the education law’s most onerous provisions if Congress failed to rewrite it, the committee chairman, Representative John Kline of Minnesota, sent Mr. Duncan a letter on Thursday demanding that he explain by July 1 the legal authority that he believed he had to issue the waivers.  . . . .

. . . . Mr. Duncan has predicted that unless the law is rewritten quickly, 80,000 of the nation’s 100,000 public schools could be declared failing this fall, demoralizing educators and paralyzing administrators with red tape. 
Notice that the demoralization and paralysis was no concern as the poorest 30 percent of schools were blown up during the past 9 years. Only when the demoralization and paralysis reaches into the leafy suburbs do the neolibs spring into action.
This month, Mr. Duncan said that if Congress failed to rewrite these and other provisions by September, he would use his executive powers to waive them — but only for states that agreed to embrace the administration’s education priorities. He used that formula in the Race to the Top grant competition, awarding money to states that opened new space for charter schools, for instance. 
In his letter, Mr. Kline asked Mr. Duncan to explain how the Department of Education had the authority to grant waivers “in exchange for reforms not authorized by Congress.”. . . .

. . . . “If you read the waiver language in the law, the secretary absolutely does not have the right to arbitrarily think up good reform ideas and require that states do them in return for waivers,” said Frederick Hess, a director at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group. “That’s a violation of constitutional design.”

Meanwhile, some states are taking matters into their own hands. On Tuesday, Idaho’s superintendent, Tom Luna, said his state would not lift its mandated testing targets this year, as required under the federal law. “If Congress and the administration will not act, states like Idaho will,” Mr. Luna wrote.

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