President offers states an opt-out from NCLB — in exchange for more federal control of education

posted at 7:37 pm on September 23, 2011 by Tina Korbe

The president today announced his plan to allow states to opt out of the most onerous requirements of No Child Left Behind, the most sweeping and comprehensive education legislation in the country. What he didn’t mention is what states will have to give up to qualify for a waiver.

States will receive a waiver if and only if they agree to certain conditions set by the Education Secretary. CNN calls those conditions “credible commitments to close lingering achievement gaps.” Conservatives call those conditions “strings attached” and “legislating through the executive branch.”

Chief among the administration’s stipulations for a waiver: The adoption of college-and-career-ready standards (a.k.a. national standards). National standards and tests might sound sensible in theory, but, in reality, they would strengthen federal power over education and weaken schools’ direct accountability to parents and taxpayers. Moreover, they would most likely lead to the standardization of mediocrity rather than the standardization of excellence.

But national standards are a favored policy proposal within the Obama Department of Education — and, again, with today’s move to introduce a qualified opt-out from NCLB, the president has found a way to circumvent Congress to push through this policy preference and other preferred “reforms.”

“What the administration is doing by attaching stipulations to a waiver is forcing states to adopt the administration’s proposals,” said Lindsey Burke, an education policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation. “Among conservatives there has rightly been a lot of skepticism because this is putting a lot of power into the hands of the Secretary. If he can single-handedly dismiss No Child Left Behind and push through his policy preferences just through waivers, that sets a dangerous precedent.”

The administration is already saying 45 states are likely to seek waivers — but Burke cautioned state leaders to think before they do.

“States should be very wary to accept these waivers because they might be receiving temporary relief from No Child Left Behind, but they’re accepting long-term handcuffs because they’re ceding control to Washington,” she said.

In a contrast to the president’s abrupt announcement, Congress has been thoughtfully and comprehensively exploring the questions of what the federal role in education should be and of how NCLB should be updated for some time now. The president had hoped Congress would reauthorize NCLB by this August. When that didn’t happen, he proceeded on his own with this new plan. It’s a familiar pattern.

In many respects, No Child Left Behind was itself a problematic piece of legislation that represented a massive federal overreach into education. By requiring all students to demonstrate proficiency in reading and math by 2014, NCLB enticed states to water down proficiency standards. That was an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the legislation. But the solution, Burke stressed, is not for the executive branch to overstep its bounds. Yes, the Secretary has waiver authority under NCLB — but he doesn’t have the authority to use waivers to rewrite the law.

Congress does, however — and has already introduced legislation like A-PLUS, which would allow states to completely opt-out of NCLB.

“If the administration is truly concerned about providing flexibility to sates, why isn’t it going along with legislation that would provide genuine flexibility through the normal legislative process — not the mirage of flexibility offered through these waivers?” Burke asked.

And lest there be any confusion, increased flexibility and a reduced federal role in education are important from more than just a limited government standpoint. Increased local and state control makes for tighter accountability and better educational outcomes.

“For half a century, we’ve seen increased federal control over education and little to no improvement to student outcomes,” Burke said. “When we see success, we see success at the state and local level.”

For that reason, Burke said, the president’s move today to further reduce federalism in education represents a highly significant development.

“I think this is one of the biggest education stories of the past decade,” she said. “This is really reshaping Washington’s role in a direction that is antithetical to state and local control. … The administration is going in precisely the wrong direction.”


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that sets a dangerous precedent.”

this administration has been setting dangerous precedents since jan 2009…and the howling W got that he used TOO MUCH executive authority…

what a bunch of hooey

cmsinaz on September 23, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Protecting and promoting failure.

It’s Obama. It’s who he is. It’s what he does.

Key West Reader on September 23, 2011 at 7:47 PM

No Dollar Left Behind.

portlandon on September 23, 2011 at 7:48 PM

OT: john king just interviewed the nyt journalist of the solyndra story…basically stressing that wh provided no political influence…big time cover for him once again tonight….

cmsinaz on September 23, 2011 at 7:49 PM

So Obama waives much of No Child Left Behind and replaces it with No Child Left Behind? Is that the sum of it?

ThePrez on September 23, 2011 at 7:49 PM

Chief among the administration’s stipulations for a waiver

Increasing the power of teachers’ unions in the state.

Hey, these are waivers from the Obama administration… you know political considerations come first.

malclave on September 23, 2011 at 7:53 PM

So Obama waives much of No Child Left Behind and replaces it with No Child Left Behind? Is that the sum of it?

ThePrez on September 23, 2011 at 7:49 PM

No, Obama waives NCLB to save the Teacher’s Union. No word yet on any punishment for the teachers in Atlanta that changed children’s scores on tests to save their own hides.

Key West Reader on September 23, 2011 at 7:53 PM

“they would most likely lead to the standardization of mediocrity rather than the standardization of excellence”

What else would you ever have expected from a policy known as “No Child Left Behind” ? The very name celebrates the lowest common denominator rather than excellence.

cool breeze on September 23, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Can the state boards of education file a class action suit and fast-track the thing to the SCOTUS?

This administration is STEAMROLLING THE F*CKING CONSTITUTION. They have been systematically usurping the powers reserved for the states, for the courts, and for Congress from day one, and they are accelerating their pace by the day.

►Executive Orders? Too many.

►Czars? WAY too many.

►Waivers? Can’t even count ‘em.

►Legislation through regulation. Don’t get me started.

Where does it end?

At this rate, by Nov. 2012 we won’t recognize our nation.

hillbillyjim on September 23, 2011 at 7:57 PM

So, it’s kind of like Obama saying, “if you like your child, you can keep your child.”

Warner Todd Huston on September 23, 2011 at 7:59 PM

So Obama waives much of No Child Left Behind and replaces it with No Child Left Behind? Is that the sum of it?

ThePrez on September 23, 2011 at 7:49 PM

Close, it’s No Child Left Behind$

Lily on September 23, 2011 at 7:59 PM

No Dollar Left Behind.

portlandon on September 23, 2011 at 7:48 PM

No Constitutional Violation Left Behind

Rovin on September 23, 2011 at 7:59 PM

No Constitutional Violation Left Behind

Rovin on September 23, 2011 at 7:59 PM

hillbillyjim on September 23, 2011 at 8:00 PM

Per the A.P., the NCLB encouraged cheating by educators. (Hah!)
Will the Obama exemptions will be “affirmative action” oriented?

trl on September 23, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Close the Department of Education and send Arne home…

d1carter on September 23, 2011 at 8:03 PM

I rely upon the wisdom of the premier modern thinker in this area, Mr. Bart Simpson. Mr. Simpson is a consumer of educational services and thus near the issues and their complexities. His summary clarion call, “Eat my shorts” rings true across our land and in the minds and hearts of all real Americans. This obviously excludes Mr. Obama – PBUH – and his Forty Thieves. Bastards and brigands all. Especially that gray haired abortion gal from Kansas. How did such a sensible state produce such a person?

Mason on September 23, 2011 at 8:03 PM

If the President of the United States can simply grant waivers willy-nilly to anything he pleases unchallenged, we may as well have kept King George.

hillbillyjim on September 23, 2011 at 8:03 PM

hillbillyjim on September 23, 2011 at 8:03 PM

I don’t understand this…WTH.

d1carter on September 23, 2011 at 8:06 PM

January 2013 can’t come soon enough.

Tuari on September 23, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Mr. “Ready to Rule” and his Gangster Government.

Don’t forget Mitt’s nice words for Arne Duncan.

INC on September 23, 2011 at 8:09 PM

I hope there is going to be huge push back against this.

Cindy Munford on September 23, 2011 at 8:09 PM

“I feel compelled to do this,” Duncan said. “My absolute preference is for Congress to fix it for the entire country. But there’s a level of dysfunction in Congress that’s paralyzing. And we’re getting to the point that this law is holding back innovation, holding back progress. We need to unleash that. We need to get out of the way.”

INC on September 23, 2011 at 8:10 PM

I don’t understand this…WTH.

d1carter on September 23, 2011 at 8:06 PM

What’s the point in having a legislature if the POTUS can regulate, weave and waiver his way around every law they write?

What’s the point in having Federal court rulings on executive actions if the various departments simply ignore them or blatantly circumvent them, as was the case with the deep-water Gulf rigs?

It’s good to be the king.

hillbillyjim on September 23, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Protecting and promoting failure.

It’s Obama. It’s who he is. It’s what he does.

Key West Reader on September 23, 2011 at 7:47 PM

Key West Reader:That is Hopeys 2012 theme,

**************FAILURE***********************************

****************DESTRUCTION********************************

And,Obama has made Racism worse,according to Morgan Freeman,
via Drudge!!

canopfor on September 23, 2011 at 8:12 PM

If the President of the United States can simply grant waivers willy-nilly to anything he pleases unchallenged, we may as well have kept King George.

hillbillyjim on September 23, 2011 at 8:03 PM

The U.S. is supposed to be a place of Lex Rex: The Law is King.

Obama wants it his way. Rex Lex: The King is the Law.

INC on September 23, 2011 at 8:12 PM

NCLB is terrible law. However the thought of Obama messing in it is worse than the bad law in the first place.

ORconservative on September 23, 2011 at 8:12 PM

NCLB is terrible law. However the thought of Obama messing in it is worse than the bad law in the first place.

ORconservative on September 23, 2011 at 8:12 PM

I agree. The law was a bad idea, but there are processes for fixing these things, and they don’t involve what come close to being “Proclamations” from Dear Leader.

hillbillyjim on September 23, 2011 at 8:20 PM

The administration is going in precisely the wrong direction.”
===============================================================
A repost from ABC News,from Tappers site,back in 2008,
and a mixture of Hopey and Father Pledger!!

Hopey/Changeys Fark Side!
*************************

This is a true story of one’s desire to reach the
brass ring,the bitterness and clinging of one’s hope.
Its of a long and challenging journey to reach the summit
only to realize that you have lost your faith,hope and
religion!
Its high up on Bend over Backwards Don’t go There
Bigot Mountain,where even the angels dare to tread!
Its of faith gained and faith lost,and of one mans
obsession to throw it all away,and go to the darkside!
Will he keep throwing every one and everthing under the
bridge,or over the side,will hope prevail,or will he be
cast into the gapeing *pit of a black hole,where even
political light can not escape!
*(canopfor regrets the gapeing pit of a
black hole,and apologizes for any
likeness to an Astronomy phrase!)ha ha

Posted by: canopfor | June 1, 2008, 8:57 pm

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2008/06/father-pfleger/

canopfor on September 23, 2011 at 8:21 PM

I sure am glad that they included that Waiver-thingy in the Constitution.

Where would we be if we couldn’t invalidate legislation by fiat?

Jason Coleman on September 23, 2011 at 8:22 PM

Just one more example of The Chicago Way’s “feel good” policies. The intent is to change (dumb down) tests and curriculum. One reason this policy was implemented, in another form, for Chicago schools was to reduce the number of children who would be eligible for special education programs, hence saving money for other “things.” Lower the standards and everyone is a winner!

MayorDaley on September 23, 2011 at 8:25 PM

Too much government involvement in education can only be solved by more government involvement.

See “we won’t pay” in the headlines. Time to put Federal education out of business by refusing to send your kids to government run schools. Start a private school, no government money, no government rules.

If the feds have a cow, then don’t call it school, call it child care services for working parents.

Skandia Recluse on September 23, 2011 at 8:29 PM

Sorry Tina but you missed the biggest marker of all — the President has no authority to offer such deals.

NCLB was authored and issued by Congress. The President’s job is to implement not Let’s Make a Deal. Though that has been this guys MO. Boehner ought to stand up and remind the goofus in chief its not his call.

Dr. Dog on September 23, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Time to dust off General McAuliffe’s famous reply to the German surrender demand at Bastogne.

OhioCoastie on September 23, 2011 at 8:33 PM

The more the federal government meddles.. the worse it seems to get.

Murf76 on September 23, 2011 at 8:33 PM

Yeah, that’s like saying you can opt out of being impaled on a stake but you have to forfeit your head.

JellyToast on September 23, 2011 at 8:33 PM

When Chicago school board president Michael Scott committed suicide in 2009, he was being investigated for several questionable practices. One of them was a typical pay to play Chicago scam, involving accepting cash/favors for target and magnet school admissions. Another was the use of his CSB credit card.

MayorDaley on September 23, 2011 at 8:36 PM

standardization of mediocrity rather than the standardization of excellence

This is the only way that guys like Obama and the rest of his ilk can get elected. The problem for the rest of us is that they know it.

Tommy_G on September 23, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Things are getting pretty tight when you have to pander to the votes of teachers and their unions.

GarandFan on September 23, 2011 at 8:44 PM

When Chicago school board president Michael Scott committed suicide in 2009, he was being investigated for several questionable practices. One of them was a typical pay to play Chicago scam, involving accepting cash/favors for target and magnet school admissions. Another was the use of his CSB credit card.

MayorDaley on September 23, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Was that case investigated by Scott Peterson? Does anyone know if Arne had anything to say about it?

It is the Chicago way after all. ….

Freddy on September 23, 2011 at 8:48 PM

I spent considerable time in meetings for many students (in a professional capacity) at the time that NCLB was enacted and have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it’s a labyrinth of micro-managed rules and regulations that only someone like Ted Kennedy would design. (The law was an early bipartisan effort by Kennedy and W, although educators were quick to blame it on the maligned Bush.) And much of the minutiae of the rules & regs is far removed from the school systems’ ability to deliver.

On the other hand, prior to NCLB, schools in my region generally ignored the students who were lagging behind their peers. Parents fought to get their kids qualified for special ed so that schools would address their needs. Not that a special ed designation did much good for kids with IQs in the normal range who had problems such as dyslexia and ADD. After NCLB, schools formed intervention teams to assess and address the needs of the kids who were lagging. I know many kids who never would have had any additional intervention without the threat of NCLB.

The extreme regulation was too much, but in my experience it at least initially forced teachers and schools to take a hard look at individual students’ needs and provide supports and services. Many years have passed since my involvement, I can’t say whether NCLB continued to spur initiative.

obladioblada on September 23, 2011 at 8:50 PM

Get the feds out of our local schools.

GaltBlvnAtty on September 23, 2011 at 9:16 PM

Or the States could tell the President to do his job…

Or the States could tell the President that they will not accept federal funds for schools… and if you want to cut other federal stuff, Mr. President, then go right ahead and you can argue why you are exceeding your authority to the SCOTUS… while we ask for our tax dollars BACK instead of your ‘help’…

Actually, I want to hear a lot of the latter from States. Perhaps it is time to stop electing weenies at the State level, too. And that goes for getting State legislatures to rescind any permission of the federal government to use land in their State for anything other than some office work.

The States need to remind the President that it is THEY who signed on to the Constitution and that the federal government exists to serve the States and the people, not the other way around.

ajacksonian on September 23, 2011 at 9:35 PM

Another great reminder of the compassionate neo-con POS Bush.

nottakingsides on September 23, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Sorry Tina but you missed the biggest marker of all — the President has no authority to offer such deals.

NCLB was authored and issued by Congress. The President’s job is to implement not Let’s Make a Deal.

Dr. Dog on September 23, 2011 at 8:32 PM

What’s the point in having a legislature if the POTUS can regulate, weave and waiver his way around every law they write?

hillbillyjim on September 23, 2011 at 8:12 PM

The ability to offer waivers was provided to the Secretary in the NCLB legislation itself. If congress didn’t want the president authorizing waivers – conditional or not – then they shouldn’t have written it into the legislation in the first place. I don’t recall all the specifics of the waivers but I also don’t recall that they couldn’t be conditional.

Also – 44 state governments cooperated in coming up with the rules for this opt-out plan. If they felt it was an assault on the rights of the several states then perhaps they should have unified in opposition to it Instead of helping to write the rules for the opt-out and creating teacher and principal accountability guidelines for it.

dieudonne on September 23, 2011 at 10:09 PM

Bugger. Forgot to end the block quote.

The ability to offer waivers was provided to the Secretary in the NCLB legislation itself. If congress didn’t want the president authorizing waivers – conditional or not – then they shouldn’t have written it into the legislation in the first place. I don’t recall all the specifics of the waivers but I also don’t recall that they couldn’t be conditional.

Also – 44 state governments cooperated in coming up with the rules for this opt-out plan. If they felt it was an assault on the rights of the several states then perhaps they should have unified in opposition to it Instead of helping to write the rules for the opt-out and creating teacher and principal accountability guidelines for it.

dieudonne on September 23, 2011 at 10:10 PM

The key to improving any good or service is to put the choice in the hands of the consumer and not a third party. If you want to see improvement in education standards, then adopt a school voucher program in which parents decide which teachers and which schools are worthy of their financial support.

PackerBronco on September 23, 2011 at 11:07 PM

I am also a teacher, one of several in a family of teachers and administrators. My certifications cover 1-12 in special education where I teach all academic subjects, reading and business computer. In general education my certifications cover 1-6 elementary, 6-12 composite social studies of which I mainly taught World History. I think I have seen it all, done it all.

The NCLB has done little to improve education, other than as mentioned, it forced the administrators to pay attention to some of the at risk students because it affected their own accountability and recognition and encouraged them to offer more advanced classes for the higher level students. Otherwise it had done much more harm than good.

NCLB standardized test became the measurement of teaching competency in many districts. This forced teachers to abandon the unnecessary lessons that added interest to the class or where not likely to on the standardized test. The result was teaching to the test, repeating and re-teaching to the lowest level of the class. It is not hard to see that students with less ability or ambition benefited, but less was taught or explored than before the standardized test to the detriment of the higher level students. This is also known as dumbing down the curriculum on top of the steady decline that has been occurring since the 1960’s when the socialist began working their way in.

The required testing of NCLB added to the cost of education in the form of thousand of dollars to districts, billions to the states and even more on the federal level. Additional preparation for the test took about two weeks of instruction out of the normal school year. There were several days to a week lost to the testing itself when classes were often suspended to do the testing. This added to the operational cost of the schools as the numbers of school days were lengthened to make up for the days taken by the test.

The NCLB needs to be abandoned and replaced with local or state end of course testing that reflects the minimum expectation of what the student should have learned. It should not be a secret test nor needs to be. Even if the student memorized every answer, they still achieved what they needed for proficiency. The teacher is free to teach and expand on the lessons for the higher level students. The teacher is motivated to insure struggling or unmotivated students reach the desired level of proficiency.
If there is one thing that remains true of Obama, it is he lies and deceives to get what he wants. If he wants more control, we know that it is not in our best interest, or our children’s best interest. As for a waiver from the NCLB, it most certainly has an expiration day that is not far in the future and has or will have a lot of hidden socialist empowering law.

Obama is in a tight spot at the moment. He and his friends had expected they had eight years to put socialism in place. That is not assured now and the pace has to speed up. Education is the most important key tool for social engineering towards socialism that will continue even if they lose power.

A good example of this is Germany where Hitler began using education to insure socialism was ingrained in the population. Today the state still insist that all students attend public school to insure the proper indoctrination for social conformity. Effectively the German state has rights to every child’s education and custody that supersede the parents rights to chose what they feel is best for their children.

Franklyn on September 23, 2011 at 11:11 PM

Mark Levin mentioned your piece on his show, Tina – nice. :)

Midas on September 23, 2011 at 11:15 PM

You know who this helps? Here’s a clue. Mittwit just declared at the debate that he liked what Arne (man-boy lover and Fister) was doing with education.

Well Tina and any other have their work cut out. Ask Mittness if he still likes what Arne is doing now. Yup folks, vote for Mittness so we can have a better RTTT, it’s for the kids.

AH_C on September 23, 2011 at 11:41 PM

Any state can totally opt out of any DoE pgm. All it has to do is give up all federal money. As long as the states want fed$$ they have no standing to challenge the new regs. Sad but true.

xkaydet65 on September 24, 2011 at 12:20 AM

What am I missing here??? By last Spring all but 7 states had adopted the Core Curriculum Standards (hand written by Arne Duncan) and the Obamster administration was moving to have states begin using them in 2014. The entire scheme was designed to surreptitiously toss out NCLB and bring in Federal control via the purse strings. So, why play an open hand when they had this won already?

InTheBellyoftheBeast on September 24, 2011 at 8:54 AM

“The administration is going in precisely the wrong direction.” When have they done otherwise? The states would be better off if the dept of ed was closed and they got the fed dollar signs out of their eyes. The states could keep the tax money sent to DC and figure out for themselves what works best for the kiddies.

Kissmygrits on September 24, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Yup folks, vote for Mittness so we can have a better RTTT, it’s for the kids.

AH_C on September 23, 2011 at 11:41 PM

Somehow i dont think we’ll have any other choice BUT to vote for Mitt.

abcurtis on September 24, 2011 at 11:56 AM