Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced that he will unilaterally override the centerpiece requirement of the No Child Left Behind school accountability law, that 100 percent of students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. -- NYTAll of Duncan's Race-To-The-Top stimulus money handouts, his speaking tours with Newt Gingrich, his embrace of T-Party govs like Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels, none of that could buy him the credibility with Congress he needed for re-authorization of No Child Left Behind.
|Duncan & Spellings|
Now embarrassed by the 2014 proficiency mandate and his own projected 82% national school failure rate, Duncan is taking the law into his own hands. About 38,000 of the nation’s 100,000 public schools fell short of their test-score targets under the federal law last year, and Duncan has predicted that number would rise to 80,000 this year. That doesn't provide Obama with much of a record to run on in 2012 -- does it?
While maintaining the worst aspects of the law's of test-and-punish provisions and using them to promote massive school closings, teacher firings, and conversion to privately-run charter schools, Duncan is offering waivers to the states based on Jeb Bush's Florida model, which even brother George wouldn't tolerate. While Jeb was governor, many of the state's A or B schools were considered "failing" by NCLB standards.
Now, instead of junking the Bush-era law Duncan is encouraging every state to apply for a waiver which he personally could approve-- or not. The Duncan waivers would come only if he deemed that a state was following the "reform" guidelines prescribed under Race To The Top, ie. school closings, mass teacher firings, and more charter schools.
The problem for Duncan is that without any more stim money in his pocket and with massive cuts in the education budget anticipated in the wake of the Obama/Boehner debt deal, he has no juice. NCLB is a dead law walking and Duncan's own future is very much in doubt. He has already lost most of his base of support on the left and now the right is opening up on him.
From the Times:
“It sounds like they’re trying to do a backdoor Round 3 of Race to the Top, and that’s astonishing,” said Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. He called Duncan’s plan “a dramatically broad reading of executive authority.”Unfortunately, the real victims of all this top-down educational tyranny will be the cash-starved schools themselves operating under confusing federal mandates and a rudderless Dept. of Education.
Pres. Obama, it's time to dump both NCLB and Arne Duncan. 2012 is drawing near.