Is it finally the beginning of the end for No Child Left Behind?
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced late last week that if Congress does not overhaul the ten-year old federal education law known as No Child Left Behind in the next few months, he will do it himself. His plan? To give states waivers from some of the law’s provisions in exchange for a commitment to undertake a currently unspecified set of reforms. Immediately dubbed “Plan B” by the Secretary and others, the announcement was not a surprise. Using regulations to amend the law, which is years overdue to be revised, has been under consideration for months. Still, the reaction to Duncan’s announcement highlighted why Congress is having such a hard time fixing the law in the first place.
Let’s take the objections in order:
Not surprisingly, leaders in Congress were not pleased. Even though Duncan has the legal authority to waive a variety of provisions in the law — essentially those not dealing with money or civil rights — Congress understandably sees making laws as their turf. The secretary is betting that the threat of being preempted will be enough to prod action on Capitol Hill.Perhaps he’s right. The Republican Chairman of the House education committee and his Democratic counterpart in the Senate both agreed that Duncan’s proposal was a bad idea.That was the first glimmer of education bipartisanship in a long while.