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Afternoon Announcements: June 13, 2011

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June 13, 2011 08:28 pm

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In an op-ed in today’s Politico, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the Obama administration will be “prepared with a process that will enable schools to move ahead with reform in the fall” if Congress does not complete work on an ESEA reauthorization soon.

The New York Times quoted Duncan as saying, “We’re not going to sit here and do nothing. Our first priority is to have Congress rewrite the law. If that doesn’t get done, we have the obligation to provide relief in exchange for reform… What I want to see in the fall is real action. It’ll either come from Congress or from us. It’s got to happen in real-people time, not Washington time.” In the same article, Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate education committee, is quoted as saying, “The best way to fix the problems in existing law is to pass a better one. We are making good progress towards introducing a bill that will advance that goal. Given the bipartisan commitment in Congress to fixing No Child Left Behind, it seems premature at this point to take steps outside the legislative process that would address N.C.L.B.’s problems in a temporary and piecemeal way.”

Education Week writes, “Mr. Duncan has already shown a willingness to let states and districts bypass key components of the law. During his first year in office, in 2009, he granted 315 waivers under NCLB—many linked to the education aid Congress provided as part of the economic-stimulus package enacted that year. That marked a ninefold increase in the number issued under his predecessor, Margaret Spellings, the year before, according to annual reports made to Congress. Information for 2010 is not yet available. But waivers have continued—including some that strike at the heart of the requirement that students, schools, and districts be measured against the same state tests.”

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