Obama Administration Committed to Expansive Federal Role in Education

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Tuesday announced opposition to a bill that would return more power over schools to the states, reinforcing the Obama administration’s determination to maintain its increased role in education.

The Obama administration has been criticized by conservatives for acting as a “national school board,” as Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has called it.

Since No Child Left Behind was passed in 2001, schools have been subject to adequate yearly progress standards that measure student success. Failure to achieve adequate yearly progress has subjected schools to corrective actions that increase in consecutive years if standards go unmet.

With schools in many states unable to meet the standards, Duncan began to grant waivers from No Child Left Behind. However, the waivers had strings attached so that states had to operate under different standards favored by the Obama administration.

Using the waivers, Duncan can dictate what state standards are and how they are measured. He gets to define school failure and the effects of failure in states that get waivers. Duncan has expanded the reach of the federal government so far into the classroom that he even gets to decide how teachers are evaluated.