Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Beware of Waivers from Education Laws

Events in Washington State are showing us what the future of American education could be if it continues down its present path. In particular, states should remember that, what the federal government can give, it can also take away. The focus is on waivers for No Child Left Behind, the law that imposed stringent requirements on public schools in exchange for federal money. Washington State received a waiver, but in return the U.S. Department of Education expected the state to tie teacher and principal evaluations to the kids’ test scores. When the legislature refused to go along, Education Secretary Arne Duncan revoked Washington’s waiver.

What does all this mean? To start, Washington faces new mandates on how it spends education dollars. Schools that are labeled “underperforming” will have to set aside money to pay for private tutors or transportation to other schools. These mandates are not flexible: whatever a school district’s circumstances, or how close it comes to reaching its benchmarks, the penalties imposed by No Child Left Behind will go into effect. Sanctions could even mean that federal bureaucrats will make staffing decisions for local schools.

Washington State students will be hurt, all because of oppressive federal control. No Child Left Behind imposed many new burdens on schools and gave the federal Department of Education the tools to enforce the changes, even if that means trampling on the rights of states and localities. Common Core is being sold as purely voluntary on the part of the states, but Arne Duncan offers favors to states that do what the feds demand. When it comes to education, the federal government now has states by the throat, and parents simply do not want the feds to control education.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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