Last night’s Republican debate in Florida was filled with candidates’ tirades about the federal government’s role in education. No Child Left Behind, the sweeping and unpopular education law signed by President George W. Bush, was singled out for criticism, with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) saying they’d do away with it altogether.
Many Republicans want to either scrap the law or substantially change it, including House Education Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MI), who calls NCLB “too large of an intrusion of the federal government.”
Yet after bashing No Child Left Behind — while doing nothing to fix it themselves — the GOP has turned right around and criticized the administration for moving ahead with reforms to scale it back. The Hill reports that Republicans are “ready to pounce” on Obama for issuing waivers to the states that will free them from many of NCLB’s requirements:
President Obama will announce major changes to No Child Left Behind Friday, which is already drawing criticism from Republicans who feel the administration is exercising too much power in the country’s education system.
In a ceremony at the White House, Secretary Arne Duncan and Obama will urge states to apply for waivers on the provision of NCLB that requires school proficiency by 2014, but there’s a catch. The administration is requiring that states adopt education policy changes the administration deems necessary.[...]
But Republicans on Capitol Hill don’t want the administration imposing more regulations on states and schools.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) called the waiver requirements a “political move” by the administration.
But Obama’s move is understood nationwide as a move towards ending the most-hated parts of NCLB. “This is the beginning of the end of the No Child era,” said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonpartisan research group.
Republicans determination to criticize Obama when he’s doing something they’ve long called for illustrates that they will find a way to attack the president no matter what he does. Regulations on states and schools were already imposed by Bush — Obama is trying to roll them back while keeping education standards high.
The waivers are necessary because NCLB required annual yearly progress tests show student proficiency or schools would face significant penalties. Forty-five states are expected to apply for the waivers, which allow states to continue receiving federal education funds.