What’s the major difference between George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law and the new education program that will be announced by President Obama today?
It’s there in the very sentence above.
The Bush law is a law. It was the result of arduous bipartisan negotiations that led to an agreement between, of all people, Bush and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
The Obama program is a program. It is federal fiat, a decision about what’s best by your superiors in the Obama administration. It’s a unilateral move to bypass the legislative process. It may or may not be good education policy. But the Chinese Politburo also may or may not be doing good education policy.
Today’s education event is the latest power grab by the Obama administration, which is already creating vast new rules for other huge sectors of the economy – particularly the environment, health care and finance.
Sure, the health and financial “reform” laws were passed by Congress. But the Democratic-controlled legislature used the bills to cede awesome rule-writing authority to the administration, which will revamp how health care and loans are administered.
Needless to say, both laws are unpopular and were passed by a Congress that was thoroughly rejected in 2010 after passing them.
And the Environmental Protection Agency has evolved into its own special satrapy.
Obama’s education proposal, to be trumpeted this morning in the East Room, would exempt states from requirements of the No Child Left Behind Law if they accede to education strategies developed or supported by Obama Education Secretary and basketball pal Arne Duncan.
In return for exemption from onerous NCLB standards like a 2014 deadline for student proficiency in math and reading, states must adhere to a federally-approved “college and career ready” curriculum. The states must also take other steps to be approved by the federal government, including ways to overhaul their worst schools and new performance measures for teachers and principals.
States don’t like the 2014 deadline because they promised to meet it and are failing. So now, the federal government has them over a barrel and will forgive the deadline if states play ball with Duncan.
In an August briefing previewing the new policy, Duncan encapsulated the Administration mindset: BIG BROTHER KNOWS BEST.
I want to thank the President for doing the right thing, stepping up. Congress, we would have loved them to act. They should have acted, didn’t happen, and we can’t afford to sit here and not support states.
This is the right thing to do for the country. Congress just hasn’t acted. And we can’t afford to wait. People are begging, they’re imploring us to do the right thing.
So it’s not my job to psychoanalyze Congress; it’s my job to move forward the children.
So you see, instructs Mr. Duncan, democracy is a slow and cumbersome process. But when you know what is right and other’s don’t – especially if others don’t – you just have to take action.
Even though once, long ago, our Founding Fathers decided that democracy was the “right” thing to do.