March 28th, 2014

WATCH: Arne Duncan Profile

A ‘perfect storm’ of events—a much-despised education law that remains in effect because Congress cannot agree on a replacement and nearly $5 billion in ‘discretionary’ money—has given Secretary of Education Arne Duncan unprecedented power. He has been granting waivers from the law and using his discretionary money to support states that adopt the reforms he believes in, such as common standards, charter schools, and teacher evaluations based on student test scores. His critics on the right and the left are enraged but seem powerless to stop him.

Download transcript (.pdf)

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Under constitutional theory, the power in domestic matters like this is supposed to rest with Congress, which could neutralize the worst aspects of current education reform (like judging teachers on the basis of pupil scores on bad tests that are meaningless to them) by simply doing its constitutional duty and rewriting a law that expired in 2007.




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