Friday, January 9, 2015

Duncan Calls for NCLB Repeal

Last night, Politico ran a story announcing that Arne Duncan will on Monday issue a call "for repealing and replacing the nation’s landmark federal education law, No Child Left Behind." They characterize this "joining Republicans in Congress." I would characterize it as trying to jump on the bus before somebody throws him under it.

"Repeal NCLB" just means "rewrite and reauthorize ESEA" and that job has been due since 2007. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act has been around since 1965, regularly reauthorized/rewritten to reflect the current administration policies. NCLB is just the version we're currently stuck with.

NCLB is the foundation for the administration's current reformster program. The universal failure of states to meet the NCLB requirement that all students be above average by 2014-- that failure is the engine that drives RttT and waivers. Remove NCLB, and you remove the chief motivation for states to accept Common Core (a  motivation so powerful, you will recall, that states signed up for CCSS before it was even finished).

But rewrite it as what?

The Obama administration has always known what their vision of a rewritten ESEA would be, and we are living it. The administration's ed program appeared first as Race to the Top in 2009, then next appeared as its proposed "Blueprint for Reform" aka proposed ESEA/NCLB rewrite in 2010; both highlighted Common Core (or something just like it), data collection, teacher evaluation based on tests, more charters. When the administration was unsuccessful in rewriting ESEA their way, they created the waiver program as an end run around the law.

So there is nothing shocking about a Duncan call to rewrite ESEA/NCLB. The administration has essentially already done it by the use of waivers.

Why is he doing it now, when he's had his way for the past several years? The answer is obvious-- if the GOP really rewrites ESEA, all of Duncan and Obama's reformy work will be trashed. Duncan's announcement is not a clarion call to change a single comma of the administration's policy-- it's an announcement that he intends to preserve it against the GOP onslaught that's about to begin. For all intents and purposes, Duncan has had the ESEA rewrite he's wanted for five years, and the GOP is threatening to take it away from him. Duncan is jumping on the bus before he is thrown under it, but there will now be a hell of a battle over who's going to drive and where the bus is going to go.


  1. "Duncan is jumping on the bus before he is thrown under it, but there will now be a hell of a battle over who's going to drive and where the bus is going to go."

    Arne, and over a cliff.

  2. The reason NCLB has failed is because they require standardized tests and high-stakes instead of basing learning off individual student need. High and low performing schools need very different things, so standardization is a giant mistake with much evidence of failure ( achievement gap increased as standards fell in suburbs and inner city schools saw motivation and joy destroyed).

    So any new policy that still has high-stakes standardized tests and especially these money wasting and time wasting teacher evaluations will fail students.

    The whole point of NCLB was privatization of education dollars.

  3. Oh PLEASE. The GOP is not going to do any such thing. Every bill that is being proposed is in lock step with Duncan and that includes progressive education reformer REPUBLICAN Sen. Lamar Alexander. If any bill gets passed to reauthorize NCLB it will be everything Obama/Duncan wants and it will seal our fate forever. The only real answer parents have is to rip their kids out of the system as fast as they can and home school. The GOP is in bed with Obama and Duncan. The GOP and DNC are the same party for God's sake what will it take to wake you people up. I say repeal NCLB, ESEA and shut down the US Dept. of Education. Until that happens our children are no longer safe. And it is YOUR job to protect the kids YOU brought into this world. If a new car, big house, vacation, cell phone, cable etc is more important than the future of your kids, grandkids and our country then sit back and keep watching America Idol but don't complain when it is too late. STARVE THE BEAST and the beast will die. The beast feeds on your children.