One of the best ways to get rid of an unpopular or unjust law is to enforce it assiduously and vigorously. No Child Left Behind, the well-intended but poorly executed attempt to raise the educational achievement for America's school children, has become almost universally unpopular with both major parties, but the President has now indicated that he will neither enforce nor repeal the law.
Instead, he intends to use the law as a money pump to reward political friends and cronies, while punishing those not in his camp.
Despite more than a decade of pressure from Washington and untold billions in expenditures, this massive attempt to shape what is taught in the nation's schools has produced little in the way of tangible results. Estimates are that more than 80% of the nation's schools are failing to meet the benchmarks of NCLB and are scheduled for sanctions by 2014.
Even worse, there is little evidence of any progress toward meeting the goals, student achievement remains flat and there is growing evidence of outright cheating and misrepresentation on state tests used to measure student achievement.
Not unlike many other central government programs run amuck, NCLB seems to be producing the exact opposite impact of the original stated intent.
In addition, withholding "federal" money has been used as a political weapon to threaten, coerce and bully states into adopting standards and practices promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who presided over the failed Chicago public school system before matriculating to Washington, has announced that he will now be granting waivers to certain states that will exempt them from meeting the requirement that all students must be proficient in math and reading by 2014. No criteria have been given for the waivers.
Never mind that he has absolutely no authority under the law to grant such waivers.
He is going to do it anyway, based on nothing more than Washington whim and caprice.
Rather than either enforcing the current law or moving for repeal, issuing waivers allows the Department of Education to use billions in tax payer funds to create winners and losers during the upcoming presidential and congressional campaigns.
All we have been told at this point is that any state may apply for a waiver, but only those that are personally approved by Duncan will be granted. The New York Times has described Duncan's unilateral assumption of power over the nation's schools as "the most sweeping use of executive authority to rewrite federal education law since Washington expanded its involvement in education in the 1960s."
I suppose we should not be surprised at this sort of arrogant disregard for the law, as it has become the norm in Washington lately. A few examples include: outright refusal to secure the borders and enforce immigration statutes; ignoring the orders of Federal judges (Gulf oil drilling ban), using regulatory agencies to circumvent legislative intent (EPA), and ignoring bankruptcy laws (Chrysler bond holders).to name a few.
Duncan's colleague at Health and Human Services has already granted waivers to participation in the national health care system, even though she has absolutely no authority to do so under the law.
I guess we are supposed to be jaded to illegalities perpetrated by Presidential appointees by now.
Rather than standing by and allowing the current NCLB to become nothing more than one more political tool by redirecting mountains of taxpayer money to manipulate education for political purposes, the United States Congress should act now to repeal the law.
There is no constitutional role for federal intrusion into the educational operations of the states and eliminating that intrusion should be part of the solution to the deficit crisis created by those in Washington D. C. Eliminating this universally reviled program would not only remove an unnecessary burden on our states' schools, but would constitute a strong first step toward rapidly dissolving the U. S. Department of Education and save billions in the process.