Alexander Calls on Secretary Duncan to “Show Restraint” on No Child Left Behind Waiver Process

Says, “Just because the Secretary has every state over a barrel doesn’t mean he should … use this opportunity to become a national school board”

Posted on September 22, 2011

“The Secretary has the power to grant waivers, but he should do it in a limited way and Congress should get to work fixing No Child Left Behind so there is no need for waivers.” – Lamar Alexander  

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the No Child Left Behind law, the Obama Administration’s plan to announce a waiver plan for states seeking relief from the law’s outdated provisions, and the introduction last week of five Senate Republican bills to fix the law. Alexander asked U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to “show restraint” with respect to his waiver-granting power, saying, “Just because the Secretary has every state over a barrel doesn’t mean he should be tempted to use this opportunity to become a national school board.” (For video of Alexander’s speech, click HERE; the full text will be available on Alexander’s Senate website early this evening.)

Alexander continued: “Step back. Look at the applications for waivers. If they enhance student achievement, say, ‘Yes.’ If they don’t, say, ‘No.’

“Some might say, and they’d be exactly right, that the real reason the Secretary is granting waivers is that Congress hasn’t done its job. We’re in our ninth year of No Child Left Behind and we should have fixed it four years ago when the law expired,” Alexander said.

He went on to say that there is “substantial agreement here in the Senate, except for these accountability provisions, these differences over whether we’re creating a national school board. We should come to a conclusion about this. We should get a result. We shouldn’t create a situation where every governor has to come to Washington to get a waiver from standards that don’t work anymore. That’s our job.

“The Secretary has the power to grant waivers, but he should do it in a limited way and Congress should get to work fixing No Child Left Behind so there is no need for waivers. I call on our Democratic colleagues, with whom we’ve met dozens of times, to redouble our joint effort to get a result.

“This is not a case where we don’t want President Obama to succeed, as some have suggested. We want him to succeed, because if the President succeeds on K-12 education, the country succeeds. ”

# # #