by deutsch29 Mercedes Schneider's EduBlog | http://bit.ly/1VoRHLl
I have had an opportunity to meet with [King] and discuss his leadership and his view of the law. I share with you, Dr. King, in the view of many legal experts and school officials across the country, the Department of Education has been bullying schools to comply with policies that simply do not have the force of law. This coercive use of power, however well-intentioned, is wrong, and it's unlawful. ...Regrettably, Dr. King has refused to commit to stopping these regulatory abuses if he were confirmed. ...... I appreciate that these guidance documents predate Dr. King's service with the Department, and that he had no role in their development or issuance. But when I asked him to reexamine them and the process by which they were created, he protected them instead of the acknowledging the problem with the process. That tells me there are more "Dear Colleague" letters coming to our schools, and this agency will continue to make up the rules in a vacuum and threaten federal funding for those who dare not comply.
I have studied Dr. King's professional record, most notably his time in New York's Department of Education, and I've reviewed the transcript of his confirmation hearing. Based on the policies that he's supported, the bipartisan opposition he has invited throughout his career and his uncompromising commitment to the designs of bureaucrats and central planners over the lived experiences of parents and teachers, I believe it would be grave error for the Senate to confirm Dr. King's nomination at this time. Indeed, I believe it would be difficult for anyone to support Dr. King's nomination on the basis of his record.The problem is not that Dr. King lacks experience; on paper, you might think that Secretary of Education is the logical next step in his career. After three years as a teacher and a brief stint managing charter schools, Dr. King has risen through the ranks of education bureaucracy, climbing from one political appointment to the next. But do we really think that someone who has spent more time in a government agency than in a classroom is better suited to oversee federal education policy. And, more to the point, what matters isn't the jobs that someone has held but the policies that person has advanced.This, Mr. President, is the problem with Dr. King's nomination. Look closely at his record, especially, look closely at the three and a half years he spent as New York's education commissioner, where he forced on an unwilling school system unpopular Common Core curriculum and standards, an inflexible testing regime, and a flawed teacher evaluation system.All of this proves that Dr. King is the standard-bearer of No Child Left Behind. ...If confirmed, Dr. King would serve as the head of the Department of Education for ten months.... This might sound like an insignificant amount of time... but in reality, the next ten months are crucial.... Just a few months ago, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).... And now, the Department of Education will begin implementing the ESSA, which will set the course of the Department for years to come....One of the most serious flaws of the ESSA... [is that] this is a model that concentrates authority... in the hands of federal politicians and bureaucrats.... And there is no government official who is granted more discretion or more authority under the ESSA than the US secretary of education. The ESSA purports to reduce the federal government's control over America's classrooms [by prohibiting, for example] the US secretary from controlling state education plans....But when you look at the fine print, you see that in most cases, these prohibitions of federal overreach contain no enforcement mechanisms, only vague, aspirational statements encouraging the Secretary to limit his own powers.So, the question is... would Dr. King adhere to the spirit of ESSA, and voluntarily return decision making authority to parents, teachers, and local officials? There's little reason to believe that he would.Dr. King's former boss and would-be predecessor, Arne Duncan, certainly had no qualms about violating similar prohibitions against federal overreach in No Child Left Behind, nor has he shied away from away from advertising the fact that ESSA would function much in the same way as No Child Left Behind.In an interview with Politico, [Duncan] was asked, "How do you respond to the notion you've had your wings clipped on your way out the door?"This was Duncan's response: "Candidly, our lawyers are smarter than many of the folks who are working on this bill." In other words, Congress can write whatever bill it wants, and the administration's lawyers will figure out a way to implement it according to the preferences of the Cabinet secretaries and their armies of bureaucrats.This is certainly a brazen admission of bureaucratic arrogance by former Secretary Duncan, but it is exactly in line with the way that Dr. King approached his job as education commissioner of New York just a few years ago.