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Secretary of Education Duncan, Congress Has Some Questions for You

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Secretary of Education Duncan, Congress

Has Some Questions for You

ItsForTheChildren Secretary of Education

Do you realize that $77.4 billion would mean over $1.5 billion for each state?

If only U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would pay attention to what his department can and cannot do, he’d have a whole lot less hassle in his life. Not only is his department being sued for alleged improprieties involving infamous “short kings” of hedge funds, not only did the world stand by shocked as a U.S. Department of Education SWAT team raid a California residence while investigating white collar crime, not only did he make phone calls to Lousiana state’s education board to lobby for his choice as superintendent, now the list grows longer as “House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline and Rep. Duncan Hunter asked that Duncan provide an explanation of the department’s legal authority to require reforms in exchange for regulatory relief. This quote is from a Politico article dated June 23, 2011 titled, “Waive Goodbye: Duncan Is Opposed On Reform Plan.

How Secretary of Education Duncan’s School Reform Works

According to Secretary of Education Duncan, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), still to be addressed for “makeover” by Congress, will leave over 80% of U.S. schools short of the benchmarks the law established in 2014. What’s a Secretary of Education to do? Not a problem; just ignore the benchmarks! You blame the law (NCLB) for the failure. Huh? (This thought comes straight out of CNN’s “Duncan: No Child Left Behind Creates Failure for U.S. Schools.”) Give “waivers!” (That way no school falls short and all schools magically get better because they’re not failing…pretty cool, huh?)

“This law has created dozens of ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed. We should get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair and flexible, and focused on the schools and students most at risk,” Duncan told the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Under the No Child Left Behind law, originally passed in 2001, all students are expected to meet a level of “proficiency” by 2014. Because standards under No Child Left Behind are higher from year to year as 2014 approaches, the percentage of schools that are not meeting “Adequate Yearly Progress” could rise from the current level of 37% to 82%, Duncan said.

Duncan pointed out that federal law requires states and districts to “implement the same set of interventions in every school that is not meeting AYP, regardless of the individual needs and circumstances of those schools.”


“By mandating and prescribing one-size-fits-all solutions, No Child Left Behind took away the ability of local and state educators to tailor solutions to the unique needs of their students,” Duncan said calling the concept “fundamentally flawed.”

Duncan was on Capitol Hill to both push for the reauthorization and revamping of the No Child Left Behind law, and to defend President Barack Obama’s budget request for 2012.

The 2012 budget request comes to $77.4 billion — an increase of $4.5 billion over the 2011 request.

Yes, the concept is flawed, very flawed, but “reauthorizing and revamping” the law which, of course requires an annual budget of over $77 billion, is ludicrous. And while Secretary of Education Duncan uses great words like “No Child Left Behind took away the ability of local and state educators to tailor solutions to the unique needs of their students,” you won’t believe his “fix.”

Congress Believes Secretary of Education Duncan’s “Fix” Oversteps His Authority

Sure, the benevolent Duncan wants to give schools waivers, but as with everything government there are strings attached. Want a waiver? Accept reforms that, guess what, haven’t been placed into law by Congress, nor has Duncan revealed what they are!

By law, the education secretary does have the authority to grant regulatory relief in the form of waivers to states, but Kline and Hunter, a subcommittee chairman, wrote that “the proposal raises questions about the department’s legal authority to grant conditional waivers in exchange for reforms not authorized by Congress.”

Duncan announced in June that if Congress fails to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by Obama’s deadline of the start of the next school year, he intends to develop a program that allows states to apply for regulatory relief if they pursue certain reforms. Duncan didn’t specify which requirements states would be asked to meet, nor did he specify when the program might be put in place.

The Kline-Hunter letter requests additional information by July 1 about the details of Duncan’s plans, including an explanation of when the proposal would be finalized, an outline of the public review and comment process and a timeline of when waivers would become effective.

Though Duncan insisted that the waiver proposal wasn’t intended to be a challenge to congressional authority, it was widely seen as a shot across the bow to the legislative branch in response to its slow progress on legislation.

Kline pushed back on the public perception that the House has been slow to move forward with legislation.


“We can’t be driven, in the House or the Senate, by a Cabinet secretary or even the president’s deadline,” Kline said. “Does not work.”

Do you realize that $77.4 billion would mean over $1.5 billion for each state? Then, you know, it’d be a heck of a lot easier for each state’s “local and state educators to tailor solutions to the unique needs of their students.”

Students?  That’s what all this talk and time and money and political games and waivers and federally mandated reforms and Secretary of Education Duncan are all about…giving children a world-class education next year.


See also “Secretary of Education Duncan’s Office Under Investigation


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