U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan  Photo credit: Ralph Alswang (CC-By-ND 2.0)
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan
Photo credit: Ralph Alswang (CC-By-ND 2.0)

Utah mom and education activist Christel Swasey late last month pointed out a new proposed rule that was released by U.S. Department of Education that would give U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan new authority over state’s ability to determine education policy for themselves.

The rule says in its abstract:

The Secretary will amend the regulations governing title I, part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), to phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards and include the results in accountability determinations, subject to limitations on the number of proficient scores that may be counted, for a limited period of time. (link above added by me)

Not that I should be surprised by anything the Obama administration does anymore, but I just picked my jaw back up on the floor.  Unfortunately the public comment for this rule has been closed and final action will be taken on it next month (I’d guess before the new Congress is sworn in).

This is the latest action by the U.S. Department of Education to wrest away control over education policy making from the states.  Swasey points out this has been the point of every one of Secretary Duncan’s education reform initiatives “from Common Core to Common Data Standards to State Longitudinal Database Systems to P-20 programs to Common Core Assessments to teacher and school evaluations.”  This seems to me to be a move by Secretary Duncan to stop states from repealing Common Core.

This usurpation of state sovereignty by rule, within the U.S. Department of Education and beyond, must be one of the top priorities of the new Republican Congress when it takes office.  Governors, at least those with any type of backbone, should tell Secretary Duncan to buzz off.

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