No Child Left Behind: Federal Funds vs State Sovereignty

States suffering from the nightmare that is “No Child Left Behind,” President G. W. Bush’s 2001 federal education legislation intended to boost productivity and performance of America’s public school students, have been offered a “waiver” from President Obama; unfortunately, there are strings attached. According to Lindsey Burke with The Foundry:

“The waivers actually fail to provide genuine relief to states, instead handing control of local school policy over to the Department of Education. The conditions-based waivers circumvent Congress and represent a significant new executive overreach… One of the most concerning conditions attached to the waivers is the requirement for states to adopt common standards and tests or have their state university approve their standards. None of the states have opted for the latter, as the Obama Administration’s many previous carrots and sticks ($4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants and potential Title I dollars) have already pushed them to begin implementing the Common Core national standards and tests…. Having national organizations and the Department of Education dictating standards and tests will effectively centralize control of the content taught in local schools. It’s an unprecedented and dangerous federal overreach. Circumventing Congress by granting strings-attached waivers from the White House shows a disregard for the legislative process and a not-so-veiled effort to further grow federal control over education.”

With unconstitutional regulations either way, many state legislators are proposing nullification. While state Representatives like Michael Weeden from New Hampshire began with bold statements such as, “I was in fifth grade when this bill was passed and I saw first-hand the ineffectiveness of this bill to lay standards of education, at a high cost to the cities and towns of the state, because they don’t provide adequate funding for their requests… More and more schools are falling into the failed category, and it’s because of the testing, not necessarily the education.”