That’s the question the WashPo Answer Sheet blog’s Valerie Strauss poses on the eve of a scheduled hearing in the U.S. House Education Committee on federal accountability standards under No Child Left Behind:
And if there is one thing we need, it is one more hearing during which witnesses can repeat the same complaints they have made for years about the fatal flaws of NCLB and its Adequate Yearly Progress accountability system… Apparently, all of the ad nauseum discussion of the topic over a period of years hasn’t been enough for Congress to really understand the issues before it rewrites NCLB.
So is Congress dragging its feet on ‘No Child,’ as Strauss charges? The Obama administration thinks so.
The broad consensus seems to be that NCLB is penalizing states for failing to meet a set of impractical standards. But addressing the issue hasn’t been easy with Congress deadlocked on nearly everything else.
So U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has offered to give out waivers to exempt states from meeting NCLB’s accountability standards — and Indiana’s going to apply for one.
But even with all Congress’s apparent foot-dragging, Duncan’s plans to act without lawmakers’ help has irked those who see unilateral executive action as potentially unconstitutional.
“I couldn’t help but think of Commodus, as portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator, who frequently expressed frustration with the Roman Senate’s inaction,” wrote education commentator Michael Petrilli on his blog.