"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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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

If All State Superintendents Stood Up to the Federal Education Bullies....

...maybe, just maybe we could stop this nonsense of the impossible accountability standards via the Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind being crafted by Arne Duncan.

Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Kentucky are instituting the "just say no" method to the Department of Education. These states believe the goals to make Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) are unattainable and financially out of reach:

In Montana, Ms. Juneau said she is freezing performance targets in part because her office simply doesn’t have the staff to deal with an increasing number of schools that may face penalties under NCLB.

“Our office resources are better used to continue our work with schools already identified for assistance than to increase the number of schools that cannot be offered the required additional resources,” she wrote in her April 25 letter to the department informing them of her decision to freeze proficiency targets.

The states are saying they don't have the money to fulfill the underfunded mandates dictated to the states. These states are digging their heels in and telling Washington what they will do and what they won't. Imagine that. States are beginning to claim their constitutional authority to make their own educational decisions.

However, there is a problem that states have gotten themselves into. They still need money to operate:

Ms. Juneau indicated that there was one thing that could get her to revert to those higher targets: if federal officials threaten to withhold money from the state. “I am not willing to put our schools’ federal funding in jeopardy,” she said.

Why do the states need the Federal money? Is it to fulfill previous Federal mandates? Is there any way to get away from the Federal stranglehold? If more states would stand up to the Chicago bully tactics at the DOE, maybe we could begin to operate our schools as they were intended...by local control instead of federal decree.

Forward this following comment by an Education Week reader to your superintendent and politicians. Perhaps it would be a good idea for our politicians and superintendents to refresh their knowledge of the Constitution and apply it to this situation. I would only hope Missouri would follow these states who have the best interests of students, parents and taxpayers in mind as they take a stand against the DOE:

"But the Education Department is warning states that flouting the law will not be tolerated, even if Congress fails to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—the current version of which is NCLB—before the start of the 2011-12 school year."

Arne: please go back and read the Constitution of the United States. You are treating States as though you are a lawmaker and they are citizens. Neither is the case. You are an unelected bureaucrat, and States are sovereign powers. Since education is not one of the enumerated federal powers, then 10th amendment means that the federal government has no legitimate role in regulating anything.

Let's have more "defiance" by other states. Far too many states are tolerating federal interference in education.


  1. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says he will withhold Title I funding if Juneau does not comply. She's in a tough spot according to an Ed Week article. Montana's legislature does not reconvene until Jan. 2012. I am just wondering how Duncan can justify withholding funds that target kids who need reading support. His approach is like blackmail. Comply or else! And the students????

  2. P.S. I think Tennessee has jumped on this train too.

  3. too bad we have the sixteenth amendment - otherwise we could have a flat tax and the fed gov would only get what it needs to defend the country

  4. Very thought provoking piece! Thanks Gretchen! I agree that many more state superintendents need to take a stand against this federal intrusion... attaching the Title I carrot to Arne's "power" will be especially detrimental! I'm hopeful though that the Education and Workforce Committee will stand strong and take the reauthorization slowly... and bring local control back into the picture! This recent audio (July 7)is short (12 min)and is definitely worth a listen! http://edworkforce.house.gov/Audio/

  5. Sadly, many states that are hungry for funding will adhere to whatever demands, simply to get their additional funding.

    It's like governmental-extortion.

    States need a hit, a fix and the DOE has it (cash).

    But as you all know, nothing is free. Everything comes with a few strings attached.


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