Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Alexander Wants States to Control Schools

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 9:24 AM

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Lamar Alexander said last week he's quitting his Senate GOP leadership position so he can work with Democrats with the goal of actually making laws rather than merely mugging for the TV cameras. He revealed the first item on his agenda today in a New York Times oped. He wants to scuttle the No Child Left Behind law and return education standards to the states.

In a shocker, Alexander praised Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan and tipped his hat to Democrats in Congress.

While all the sponsors of this legislation are Republican senators, many of the ideas were either first advanced or have been worked on in concert with Mr. Obama; his excellent education secretary, Arne Duncan; and Democratic colleagues in both the House and the Senate.

We want to continue to work with our colleagues across the aisle and in the House. Our purpose in offering our ideas is to spur progress so we can enact a bill by the end of the year.

Just about everyone agrees No Child Left Behind isn't working. The big complaint is that it sets impossible-to-attain goals. As Alexander notes, nearly 80 percent of U.S. schools soon will fail to meet the adequate yearly progress standards. Seventy percent of Nashville's schools did not meet the law’s requirements this year.

Tired of waiting for Congress to overhaul the law, Duncan is about to give No Child Left Behind waivers to states that agree to Obama administration reforms. Tennessee already has applied for one of those.

"Unfortunately," Alexander writes, "these waivers come with a series of new federal rules, this time without congressional approval, and would make the secretary of education the equivalent of a national school board."

Among other proposals, the senator would make it easier for states to expand charter schools and target more federal money to help the poorest-performing students.

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