The big, bad President stomps all over poor, powerless Congress again:
President Obama on Friday will offer to waive central provisions of the No Child Left Behind law for states that embrace his educational agenda, essentially ending his predecessor’s signature accountability measure, which has defined public school life nationwide for nearly a decade.
The commitments the administration is requiring of states closely resemble elements of the administration’s own blueprint for rewriting the No Child law, sent to Congress last year but never acted upon.
“They want to tell the states that from now on the states are going to be in charge, not the federal government,” said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Fordham Institute, a conservative research group. “But to get this flexibility, states have to agree to conditions that are tantamount to the blueprint that Duncan put out a year ago, so this looks like a kind of unilateral reauthorization of the law.”
“While I appreciate some of the policies outlined in the secretary’s waivers plan, I simply cannot support a process that grants the secretary of education sweeping authority to handpick winners and losers,” said Representative John Kline, Republican of Minnesota, who is chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This sets a dangerous precedent. Make no mistake — this is a political move that could have a damaging impact on Congressional efforts to enact lasting reforms to current elementary and secondary education law.”
No President in my memory was as deferential to the proper role of the legislative branch as Obama. Was. Maybe that was naïve, deferring on domestic issue law-making to what is a co-equal branch, but in any event, he tried. It didn’t work. This Congress simply won’t do the job. They’re struggling to do what’s necessary to keep the lights on. Again.
There weren’t going to be any “lasting reforms” enacted, and everyone knows it. There was going to be complete paralysis and inaction while states got closer and closer to the NCLB deadlines, and then there was going to be high drama, panic, and threats of the loss of federal funding for schools.
Do they worry that they’re going to become completely irrelevant? Not just in terms of this President or this Congress, but generally and permanently? As an amateur legislative branch enthusiast, I worry about that, and I don’t work there. I don’t know that they can remain co-equal, in any real, substantive way if they won’t take responsibility for anything.