"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Representative John Kline on Arne Duncan: "He's Not the Nation's Superintendent"

Does Arne Duncan have too much money and power?

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.

Representative John Kline:

“He’s not the nation’s superintendent,” Mr. Kline said of Mr. Duncan, who assumed powers greater than any of his predecessors when, in 2009, Congress voted $100 billion in economic stimulus money for the nation’s school systems and allowed the secretary to decide how much of it should be spent.

“Unquestionably, Congress gave the secretary way too much authority in the stimulus bill when it said, ‘Here’s $5 billion, go do good things for education,’ ” Mr. Kline said.

Duncan previously said if Congress does not reauthorize and amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—popularly known as No Child Left Behind—he will take actions to amend the law himself. Representative Kline isn't impressed with Secretary Duncan's apparent belief he can craft legislation.

Idaho legislators don't seem to impressed with Duncan either. From Ed Week:

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is putting the feds on notice: His state will not follow key parts of the No Child Left Behind law anymore. Instead, Idaho will use its own accountability system.

"Idaho, like many other states, does not have the luxury of spending time and limited resources on meeting the rigid requirements of an outdated accountability system," Luna wrote. "If Congress and the Administration will not act, states like Idaho will."

Kentucky is out in front on this, and already has asked for permission (unlike the Idaho way of ask-forgiveness-not-permission) to use its own accountability model.

Duncan & Co., who so far have refused to articulate their waiver plan, are at risk of losing control of this debate over what happens to NCLB in the interim. Since they haven't gotten out in front of this issue, the states are doing so. And, if a bunch of states band together in defiance of NCLB and the feds, what will Duncan do about it, especially since he himself has admitted the law is fundamentally flawed?

Note the last paragraph of this article:

I'm waiting for a response from the Education Department. It seems unlikely the department can just let states such as Idaho call their own shots and ignore the law. What it can do is spell out a plan for waivers, and quickly.

"It seems unlikely the department can just let states such as Idaho call their own shots and ignore the law". The Department of Education shouldn't have the power to "let" states call their own shots. It's a state constitutional responsibility to educate its own students. The states should not have to ask the Federal Government for permission or have permission granted to set state standards.

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