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Rick Hess has a fresh idea about Arne Duncan’s perspective on the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind: he likes things just the way they are. For him, the best of all possible outcomes is the status quo. When the Obama administration controlled both houses of Congress, there was no interest in revising NCLB, even though it was due to be reauthorized in 2007.
Duncan has used federal waivers to rewrite the law to suit his wishes. Congress did not object when he twisted states’ arms (sorry for that bad metaphor; states don’t have arms) to adopt the Common Core, to evaluate teachers by test scores, and to whatever else struck his fancy. Why should he want Congress to pass a law that might restrict his power to the National Czar of schools?
Hess reprints an imaginary interview he wrote in 2011 with a Republican Secretary of Education who uses her vast powers to impose vouchers, a moment of silence, require abstinence education, require states to allow for-profit charters, and restrict collective bargaining. She is, of course, immensely grateful to Arne Duncan for showing how the Secretary can rewrite the law without turning to Congress.