• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: Obama Circumvents Congress on Education Policy

    For the past few decades, the federal government has continuously increased its power over local schools, through funding with strings attached, with depressing results. Since the 1970′s federal spending on education has nearly tripled, yet student achievement has remained flat and graduation rates have not improved. However, that increased spending has had a major impact on the amount of red tape, paperwork and administrative costs imposed on local schools and teachers, taking valuable time away from their core mission – educating children.

    While federal policymakers are busy spending billions to make matters worse for public schools, they’re also busy preventing students from having better choices, at the behest of powerful teachers unions. While charter, parochial and private schools offer better results and graduation results, President Obama and his allies are trying to prevent children from enrolling in them through cost-effective aid for school choice that measurably puts them on a path of success.

    In many cases, Washington lawmakers who themselves enjoyed school choice opportunities as children are seizing that same opportunity from inner-city kids–as they attempted to do with the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program–in order to place those children back into failing and often dangerous public schools with the odds stacked against them.

    (Watch Let Me Rise HERE – a 30 minute Documentary featuring Juan Williams and produced by The Heritage Foundation highlighting the fight for school choice in our nation’s capital.)

    This bleak picture of federal involvement in education should cause President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to step back and reevaluate the entire method of federal education involvement. But instead, on Friday, Obama doubled down, and did so by circumventing Congress and rewriting the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law unilaterally in the White House.

    In the Rose Garden, Obama announced one of the biggest education developments in a decade, unveiling an NCLB waiver program where states can get out of the onerous federal requirements so long as they meet President Obama’s own requirements. States would be trading one set of federal standards, approved by Congress, for another set, approved by unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington.

    So yes, they may provide some temporary relief from the onerous provisions of NCLB, but in exchange for new long-term handcuffs.

    All sides agree that No Child Left Behind is not working as it was intended. But while liberals argue for more money and more federal control, conservatives are offering real reform that will save taxpayer dollars, improve results and give students more opportunities. Conservative lawmakers have introduced the A-PLUS Act that would allow states to completely opt out of NCLB, and other alternative measures that would restore education decision-making to state and local leaders.

    But rather than work through the legislative system, Obama is ignoring it. Heritage expert Lindsey Burke explains:

    The Obama administration is unhappy that Congress has not yet reauthorized No Child Left Behind (President Obama wanted the law reauthorized before the start of this school year), so he is dangling waivers in front of states thirsting for relief in exchange for their agreement to adopt the administration’s preferred education reforms, including national standards and tests. And because of the conditions, the temporary relief states get from the waivers will be quickly followed by an increase in Washington’s power over state educational decisions.

    Secretary Duncan recently said: “[T]here’s a level of dysfunction in Congress that’s paralyzing.” But many presidents have had to work with a divided government, and didn’t choose to unilaterally re-write laws when they grew frustrated.

    President Obama isn’t a victim of congressional paralysis on education policy, as his Race to the Top funding passed through his “stimulus bill” unfortunately demonstrates. Race to the Top was yet another federal overreach into education where applying states hard pressed to compete for more Washington handouts, that they had to adopt national standards for math and English language arts before the standards had even been crafted. (Watch a video on Race to the Top and the dangers of national standards HERE)

    There is no excuse for this latest Obama fiat. Facing high unemployment and a dragging economy, federal education decisions are doing more harm than good.

    Former Education Secretary William Bennett told Meet the Press yesterday: “[I]f you’ve completed college, the unemployment rate is about 5 percent. If you’ve finished high school, your unemployment rate is about 9 percent. If you haven’t finished high school, the unemployment rate’s about 15 percent.”

    Forcing children into underperforming schools with low graduation rates where federal dictates have no record of success, rather than considering real reforms has a long-term negative effect on our economy. Considering Obama’s consistent promises to lower, rather than raise, the unemployment rate, you would think he would be open to better ideas.

    This week NBC celebrates “Education Nation” where they will feature experts discussing these issues. But all too often media guests and panels evaluate how to better spend federal dollars rather than having a serious discussion about the actual role of the federal government, and what opportunities Washington and unions deprive children.

    Let’s hope the conversation in the media focuses on results and opportunities and not just the platitudes of low expectations. The White House must be held accountable for its latest unilateral overreach, and the poor results of its spending so far.

    * See if your state gives parents the ability to choose a safe and effective school for their children by clicking HERE and using our interactive map. *

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    42 Responses to Morning Bell: Obama Circumvents Congress on Education Policy

    1. Sam says:

      Why can't congress stop Obama from ignoring the legislative system and passing his executive orders ?

    2. gitredy says:

      I wonder if Mr. Bennett's statistics on unemployment account for those who, with or without education, forego or abandon trying to "find" a job and create their own future. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the U.S. had little or no formal education. I don't deny the need for education; we need doctors, engineers, and judges, but let's make creating entrepreneurs a more visible, credible alternative for our sons and daughters. I for one, don't want my sons to get a good education, at a good school, so they can get a "good job"…what a failure that thinking has been….How many "degreed professionals" are out there pushing plates just to make a living? 3-4 years of college so you can start life with a good load of debt before you get your first job?? …..or as Robert Kiyosaki puts it " The A students work for the government, the B students work for the C students who became entrepreneurs".

    3. denny says:

      Federal Government needs badly to turn control of local public schools and education over to the individual States. We do not need, nor want, the Federal Government to include the politics of either arty into the school teaching systems and classes. And i don't care which party. We need the basics teached. Some things are better off as indivdual choices, later in life, gained through experiance. All sides should be taught in the learning process. Right now, all I see are liberal, extreem liberal, views taught in many publuc schools, colleges, and universities. These are personal views from the instructors, teachers, and proffesors. Their personal views should not be included. The students should develope their own personal views on their own.

    4. BillK says:

      Herr Obama was elected president, not dictator. He just does not get it and we let him get away with all of his dictatorship processes. When will the country wake up??? Based on past history, when it is too late.

    5. Mutantone says:

      "States would be trading one set of federal standards, approved by Congress, for another set, approved by unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington."
      another agenda to circumvent the Constitution, this man has no regard for the laws of the land.

    6. Lloyd Scallan says:

      By controling the education system, Obama controls the future of this nation. Obama cannot trust the people's repersentatives in Congress will do the right thing. He must have full control to complete his socialist agenda. He forces parents to send their childern to failing schools to protect the bad teachers, who just happen to be members of teachers unions, that are causing the schools to fail in the first place.
      These are many of the same teachers who subscribe to the same socialist agenda for this nation as Obama.

    7. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Here we go again. Obama's a failed President with failed policies.

    8. LuluBelle says:

      It is so frustrating to hear statements about what Obama should do to improve the school system (or anything else). He does not have the same outlook as patriotic Americans do; he does not want us to thrive and prosper as a free nation. Obama does not care about children getting a good education; quite the opposite. He wants schools to be government indoctrination centers, which is why he continues to remove individual choices. He does not want the populace to be educated and therefore able to see him for what he is: a dictatorial tyrant, bypassing Congress at every turn, intent on destroying this country and instituting a socialist-environmentalist-elite-ruled "utopia." His policies and dictates are having precisely the change he is hoping for: fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

    9. Liberalsownfalsehood says:

      Another wrong move by the Obama "Administration" to benefit his donor/voter base at the expense of the States and children that need it most.

    10. marnott says:

      How do he and his czars continue to corrupt the legislative function? If there is no one to stop these fiats? We are only steps away from a dictatorship. Every time I say, "he can't do that" it is done.

    11. Clearhead says:

      Just when we think, "Everything's up to date in "Kansas City" — they,ve gone about as far as they can go", we find that we ain't seen nothin' yet ! Another outrageous Constitutional violation occurs and the violator in chief effectively says, "Take that, peasants !" How long, America? How long?

    12. Dinah L says:

      AGAIN (yes, I am yelling)

      How does Obama get away with ignoring Congress? Isn't that supposed to be the point of the 3 branches of government? I thought they were supposed to keep each other from taking over. I am flummoxed by this. Is there any way to fix this?

    13. C. Hyatt says:

      Here is what is broken with our education system. 1) Tenure 2) Curriculum and 3) Federal involvement. Not all students should be college bound. The education system should morph to include more trade schools. Producing individuals who are qualified to immediately go into a money-making job. Schools should try to coop with business in order to provide an education that can be useful AND is of interest to the student. Teachers who cannot perform should be fired. And, if the Federal Government wants to be the enforcement agency, then all Congressional and presidential kids should be required to attend a public school. If it's good enough for your constituency then it should be good enough for you.

    14. KC - NM says:

      I find no surprise in the actions by this so-called leader. The republican debate last week covered many of these ideas and initiatives. The only item the President would not consider is abolishing the Dept of Education. He must keep growing government and spending more that we do not have. His latest education actions are based on huge dollar amounts to improve schools and to keep teachers for the union appeasement. We cannot afford this nor him. Change is coming – yes we can and yes we will in 2012!

    15. Carol M Kite says:

      Realizing Obama has made Congress irrelevant, tho' Congress indeed does no taxpayer representation (we need to bounce them out), he's only ever about grabbing more unavailable money while he gets his hands into more & more power over all. If ony it meant better education practices but U S is sadly behind so many countries in education for our future productive adults, it's shameful & embarassing!

    16. @BuffoonTRM says:

      Since there is no mention of anything illegal or unconstitutional mentioned, how do we stop these people? Please spare me the "vote 'em out" rah rah. These people need to be rooted out of every institution, top to bottom.
      They are un-American enemies of the Republic who know full well the destruction they wreak.

    17. flajim says:

      It's time to face the fact that education can't be administered on a national level. That's in addition to the uncomfortable fact that the feds have no constitutional authority to do so. The government body that generally functions best is one that's accountable and accessible to those affected by it.__Today, there are two main impediments to students' learning: teachers unions and the entrenched tenure system

    18. Bob Wescott says:

      Not enough is being said about Obam's circumvention of Congress through the process of continuing resolutions instead of real budgets. Conservatives should refuse ANY funding bill until a budget is passed and signed.

    19. RG Schmidt says:

      "Obama circumvents Congress," and the wimps in Congress do nothing, say nothing. Business as usual. It's far from the first time, and each time it's ignored makes the next time that much easier.

    20. J E Houser says:

      The federal government MUST get out of schooling AND family discipline.

    21. Wayne Peterkin says:

      I am opposed to the federal involvement in our schools. I have always favored schools being under local control. However, I do NOT understand how this president or any president can arbitrarily override Congress and federal law. What gave him that power? How can Obama simply change and/or ignore federal law anytime he seems to please? I have not seen anything in the Constitution that says the executive can simply ignore the legislative branch of our government. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I need to have someone explain where I'm wrong.

    22. colemjw says:

      The best first step to improving education would be elimination of the unconstitutional Dept. of Education.
      There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the Federal Government any authority over public education.

      The 10th amendment of the Constitution would put the responsibility for education back in the hands off the states and people, where it rightly belongs.

    23. Maria says:

      The public schools are failing our children. My husband and I will not buy a new car(s) so that we can send our children to private school. It worked for my oldest who received a regents scholarship in addition to an athletic scholarship. I credit his hard work along with the education he received in private school; kindergarten through sixth grade.

    24. Maria says:

      In my first post I neglected to ask the following — why do some school districts have a 1:1 teacher to administrator ratio? This can't possibly be necessary and why don't we hear more about this from the media. All we hear is the cry that we do not pay our teachers well and that we do not have sufficient funding to hire more teachers. Perhaps there should be more studies and publicity regarding these administrative roles and their salaries????

    25. Gringo Infidel says:

      Just another example of too much central government overreach.

      If these folks worked in a for profit business, they would be on constant parole for failing to perform. They must go and stop taking tax dollars for a salary AND a very generous retirement.

    26. Carol Babyak says:

      Choice for parents—what a novel idea. Our public schools have more money per student thrown at them and the quality of education is ever diminshing!!! I've some first hand knowledge of charter schools and they turn out better educated children. The Federal government in the Race to the Top stimulus will be another disaster for our children!

    27. Education is not a Federal issue under the US Constitution,its the States. President Obama took an oath to Uphold the US Constitution, which he and meny politicians have ignored. We are a Constitutional Republic.
      Its time the Congress steps up and says no to President Obama. Government has become the corrupt and control freaks
      Waste Watchers inc http://www.wastewatchersinc.org
      Richard Aherrn-Vice Presidenrt

    28. Harry the Hook says:

      He really needs to be impeached, not reelected.

    29. toledofan says:

      Until the Department of Education is either revamped, reconstructed or at the very least managed differently by Congress, little will change. Just take a couple of minutes, when you're out and about, and really listen to the kids around you, watching is hillarious as well, or just try listening and talking to your kids at home; it's amazing how out of touch some of them are or how little they use or understand the English Language. I sure hope somebody is documenting all the new lingo because someday we may have to ask the simple question what the heck are you talking about.

    30. Guest says:

      NCLB is administered through Title I, which provides federal money to schools with a significant number of poor students, as determined by eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch. Title I is a voluntary program. If states are eager avoid the "bleak picture of federal involvement in education" they are free to not accept Title I funds and run schools with their own money.

      • Bobbie says:

        nothing in government is "voluntary" under it's true sense of the word or there would be no cost to anyone but those volunteering! Why administer anything that doesn't work, like NCLB? It's an added weight of government control with no positive significance to the whole. as far as free or reduced lunches we're told over 95% of kids get free lunch! and by no discretion also told that the applications are mostly falsified to get it. But nothing is done to correct because it looks good for government rescue.

    31. Lisa says:

      This was another gimme to the unions, who hate NCLB because it imposes goals on the teachers. Eliminating it removes all accountability from the educators in public schools. That would be fine, if parents were then allowed to choose the best school for their kids. Alas, no – so, Obama has shut the front door after you enter, and locked the back door exit too. All without a vote by the taxpayers who fund the education system. Anyone who still wants to argue that he's a free market kinda guy is either woefully un-informed or an imbecile.

    32. JRC says:

      The main goal of federally run education is the progressive indoctrination of our kids (effectively widening their base). The main goal of local run education is the education of our kids (effectively making them better members of our community). The main goal of America should be to completely do away with the money sucking Department of Education (effectively stopping the warping of our future generation). This is the first step in blocking the progressive take over of the future of our beloved republic (the greatest God given example of freedom and hope for all)

    33. Whicket Williams says:

      We will spend the first 4 years of the next administration undoing what this one has done. I hope they will prosecute everywhere laws were violated, as they go through every line trying to restore the U.S. Government, and l lets all pray that they will dismantle the huge bureaucracy have been formed that eat all our money and cause the gov. th be unable to function, and the rest of the country also, as everybody waits in these bureaucrats.

    34. Jeanne Stotler says:

      I have often wondered WHY it cost more to educate a child in public school than in a parochial school?? My children went to Parochial grade school and have all done well as adults, they can comprehend what they read and can write in long hand. BHO believes he is a dictatoe, he's fighting like Hell to keep his job, we need to fight for him to lose it, and he, his csars and cabinet need a special prosecuter to examine and bring charges. against the whole bunch. At this moment he's flying around the country and we, you and me, are paying for it, this is illegal as any campaigning is suppose to be paid by DNC, they are lying when they say he's doing such and such, he's out there trying to convince people he has not had enough time to accomplish his goal.. He's right on that as his goal is to make us a socialistic country and appoint himself as Pres. for life.

    35. Jessie says:

      I am sick of everything that comes out of Washington
      I hate to be the barer of bad news but for everyone in this country if you are black, white, yellow,green, or pink it dont matter
      if you are a poor black kid growing up in poverty they dont care
      if you are a poor white kid growing up in the mountains of Kentucky in poverty they dont care
      I love how they toss in the words black kids in intercitys like someone in Wahington cares
      Let me clue you in on what Washington and the teacher unions care for and it is MONEY IN THEIR POCKET
      Not whats best for the kids not whats best for the country not whats best for the people
      I think its time to run the whole lot off just like they did overseas

    36. RennyG says:

      He is doing what he intended to do, create a "kingship" for himself. No one can stop him because he doesn't care about rules and he has his "czars" and the "judicial" system in his back pocket!! His attatude is, "sue me!!!" This community organizer knows what he is doing, he has his "kings court" all set up. Now he is going to sucker everyone into voting for him, he needs another four years to complete the job. Watch him, he will do it unless our Lord steps in!!!!!!

    37. JohnL2 says:

      Obama seems to think he is king Obama and ignores the US Constitution AND congress! Obama is an arrogant SOB,. and the sooner he is out of office, and hopefully the USA, the better for all legal American citizens!!

    38. Robert Phillips says:

      You state, "The White House must be held accountable for its latest unilateral overreach, and the poor results of its spending so far." You're right. But who is going to hold Obama accountable? You? Congress has proven repeatedly they won't, and neither will the media, who's in his back pocket. I once saw a poster that said: WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, MORE WILL HAVE BEEN SAID THAN DONE.

    39. queenie says:

      I don't understand why the pres can break the constitution to re-write laws against the oversight committees. Why can't Congress put him up for impeachment as he is obviously not upholding the constitution as he vowed to do when sworn into office. There has to be some way to hold him to the rules of his position.

    40. Education is a state issue, not federal issue-Stop the Obama Adminsistrion from takeing an end around Congress. I do not understand what were paying them for. Washigton is corrupt http://www.judgenap.com

    41. bullswin says:

      Talk to any school official. The federal mandates eat away at funds and teaching time needed to run good schools. Notice empty to near empty school busses running the streets. Kids are shuttled around needlessly taking away from valuable classroom time. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner the schools have become day care for parents who don't give a da__. I went to public schools and we always had 30+ kids in class with one teacher and we all did well. Difference being that trouble makers were punished, paddled, detained, suspended and eventually expelled. And if I got paddled at school you can bet I would get a double paddling from my Dad at home. Oh that's right families with mothers and fathers were important when the Feds didn't run the schools.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×