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Congressional report raises concerns over Duncan waivers

Hmm. Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that I have heard this before? Oh, I know. We wrote about it back on June 14 (Creative Non-Compliance).

The issue at hand is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s disregard for federal law and his willingness to circumvent NCLB to grant conditional waivers to states and schools making it easier to avoid the “failing school” moniker.

Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) deserve credit for pushing the issue with the Secretary. On June 23, they sent a letter to Duncan about his proposal and as of the July 1 deadline had yet to receive a response.

In the meantime, the Congressional Research Service produced its own report. Kline put out a release encapsulating the findings:

The CRS analysis confirms the Secretary’s authority to waive statutory requirements under ESEA; however, the report warns of potential legal limits and challenges to the Secretary’s proposal to grant conditional waivers…The CRS report underscores the urgent need for the Secretary to fully explain his conditional waiver proposal and offer the legal justification for his plan.

Secretary Duncan, we know you are a busy guy, but don’t you think you owe it to not only the committee, but also American families, to explain your position? Or perhaps you’re just waiting for a waiver.

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President Clinton and Charter Schools: A History Lesson

History is an important aspect of life to understand. Knowing what transpired and why, who was involved and why they did what they did, drives us to emulate that which is good, and, hopefully, learn from mistakes. That’s why I ask my colleagues to appreciate, as well as tolerate, my concern over a public tribute to former President Bill Clinton, who today received the first-ever lifetime achievement award from the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.

Look, it’s great that a prominent, centrist Democrat supports charters and that he knew as president that it was important to endorse the concept. But, it doesn’t change the fact that two states had already enacted charter school legislation before he even stepped into the Oval Office. In 1991, Minnesota’s Gov. Arne Carlson became the first to sign charters into law and then in 1992 California Gov. Pete Wilson followed suit. (more…)

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Putting the Ill in Illinois

Illinois’ education blob is giving themselves a pat on the back. Their “collaboration” helped pass a bill, almost unanimously, that institutes some form of teacher evaluations based on “multiple measures” yet to be defined, and changes tenure rules, slightly. There are longer school days, strike rules requiring 75 percent of teachers to agree, but not much more. There’s not much here that helps students immediately, or parents, but makes it look like it does. Indeed, the back patting seems to be more about how it was done, not what was done.

Says the press propaganda:

“Unlike our neighbors in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states, stakeholders here worked together to craft an aggressive bill that makes our state the leader in education reform. At a time when many teachers understandably feel under attack, this bill celebrates effective teachers, recognizes their accomplishments and helps keep them in classrooms.”

We’re so glad that no one had to flee a state to keep from voting on major changes to education. Maybe that’s because there was nothing really to flee about, no controversy, no major changes. Time will tell, but a rose by any other name is not a rose. And this bill is not reform.

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