Education Secretary Arne Duncan is granting No Child Left Behind waivers to states that adopt Duncan’s favored reforms, notes Rick Hess. If Romney wins, what sort of waivers would sauce the gander?
First, Romney ought to announce that waivers from NCLB will require real options for parents in all persistently low-performing schools. Since Democrats are right to point out that there aren’t enough seats for all the affected kids to escape to, Romney ought to insist that states adopt the “parent trigger” in order to give parents the option to radically remake their children’s school. Given that the parent trigger has been championed by Democratic school reform activists, but angers traditional Democratic allies in school districts, it’d be a neat piece of political jujitsu.
If states can’t provide alternatives for kids in failing schools, Romney could require a voucher option, Hess suggests.
In addition, waiver-seeking states could be required “to emulate Wisconsin and Indiana and restrict the scope of collective bargaining to wages and wage-related benefits, so that it no longer encompasses policies that can impede school improvement.”
Romney could require waiver states “to undergo an independent audit of their health care and retirement obligations and to adopt a plan that establishes a sustainable financial model.”
Finally, he ought to insist that states demonstrate that they’re spending federal funds wisely. This requires meaningful cost accounting, including calculating ROI (return on investment) at the school and district levels.
Yes, it would be federal overreach, Hess writes. But if the Democrats can do it, the Republicans can too.