On Friday, the U. S. Department of Education sent a letter to Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, threatening to revoke the state’s waiver from No Child Left Behind – because Indiana exited the Common Core national standards last month.
The letter states:
“IDOE (Indiana Department of Education) met ED (Department of Education) requirements in its approved ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act/[No Child Left Behind]) flexibility request through the 2013-14 school year by adopting and implementing standards common to a significant number of States. Because the IDOE will no longer implement those standards, IDOE must amend its ESEA flexibility request and provide evidence that its new standards are certified by a State network of IHEs (Institutions of Higher Education) that students who meet the standards will not need remedial coursework at the postsecondary level.”
The saga of NCLB waivers is further evidence of the administration’s clear fingerprints on what is ostensibly a “state-led” effort.
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In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education circumvented the normal legislative process (through which a law like No Child Left Behind would be amended and reauthorized) by offering each state “flexibility” waivers from some of the more onerous federal mandates in NCLB. Those waivers were offered to states in part in exchange for adopting “college and career-ready standards” or standards that were “common to a significant number of states,” which most states understood to mean Common Core.
Although the Secretary of Education has authority to offer waivers from parts of the law, the executive branch policymaking represented by the waiver pacts sets concerning precedent and grows the department’s power over state and local education decision-making.