NCLB reauthorization cements Common Core into federal law

February 3, 2015 6 Comments

The U.S. Senate is fast-tracking new legislation titled the Every Child Ready for College or a Career Act of 2015, which will reauthorize No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The author of the bill, Senator Lamar Alexander, claims it’s an effort to restore the power of local and state education agencies, but, in reality, it does the opposite. In fact, his bill places more conditions on the way states develop their standards, assessments, and accountability systems than required under NCLB, and will cement the Common Core State Standards into federal law.

Support for the reauthorization of NCLB is at an all time high, as states have argued that the federal NCLB waivers and Race to the Top grants  issued by the Obama Administration are too prescriptive and go beyond the authority granted to the U. S. Secretary of Education under the program. The problem with Senator Alexander’s bill is that it doesn’t undo these requirements, it simply includes them into the new law making what was once only a requirement for states seeking a waiver into a  federal mandate.

For example, NCLB legislation (2002), required states to adopt standards that: ‘‘(I) specify what children are expected to know and be able to do; (II) contain coherent and rigorous content; and (III) encourage the teaching of advanced skills.” This allowed states broad discretion to establish standards that best fit the needs of students in their state.

In 2010, the US Secretary of Education limited this discretion when it issued NCLB waivers and Race to the Top grants.  To qualify for these programs, states were required to adopt standards that were “college and career ready” which, in theory, sounds reasonable. In practice, however, the specific criteria used by the US Department of Education to determine if standards were “college and career ready” was anything but reasonable and denied states their constitutional right to independently determine their own standards.

The US Department of Education has defined “college and career ready” as standards which:

 “align to the entrance requirements, without the need for academic remediation, for an institution of higher education in the State.”

Assurances by the heads of state public universities were made in the application for the NCLB waiver and Race to the Top grants to use the Common Core aligned tests as the “entrance requirements, without the need for academic remediation, for an institution of higher education in the state.”  Over the past four years, public universities have been aligning their entrance requirements to the Common Core and for many universities it is already accomplished. The “entrance requirements” are the Common Core.

If Senator Alexander intended his bill to do something different, why did he  include the same language? The Every Child Ready for College or a Career Act mandates that states adopt standards which:

 “aligned to the entrance requirements, without the need for academic remediation, for an institution of higher education in the State.”

The inclusion of this definition in the reauthorization bill no longer requires the U.S. Department of Education to issue waivers to coerce states into adopting CCSS, the Every Student College and Career Ready Act conveniently puts it into law. Senator Alexander’s reauthorization bill  is nothing more than the NCLB waiver requirements rebranded as the Every Student College and Career Ready Act. If his bill passes, there will be no escaping Common Core if states want to participate in federal education programs which offer $15 billion in funding to states.

It’s almost laughable when members of Congress talk about the tough legislation they want to pass to “ban” Common Core and “prohibit” the U.S. Department of Education from coercing states to adopt specific standards; this language is meaningless. They won’t have to force states to adopt Common Core,  alignment to them will be a requirement for participation in the lucrative federal education program. It’s the same play on words used to disguise Obamacare as medicaid expansion waivers: States aren’t “required” to enforce Obamacare’s medicaid expansion mandates to receive the program’s federal funding, they just have to align their state medicaid program to the same guidelines.

Government officials assume the American people are too stupid to catch on to the bait and switch surrounding the reauthorization of NCLB, and their arrogance prevents them from noticing that they aren’t fooling anyone! If Congress wants to expand NCLB and place states under the Common Core regime, then say it and live with the electoral consequences. If they truly desire to cut the federal over-reach into education policy that is strangling the achievement of American students, then they should allow NCLB to sunset, and block grant federal funding to states for education- without restrictions and federally inspired paramenters with failed track records.

Contact the Indiana Congressional members using the phone numbers below, and tell them you do not support the Every Child College and Career Ready draft legislation; students and teachers deserve real reform, not a rebrand! Special attention should be paid to Rep. Todd Rokita and Rep. Luke Messer who sit on the Education Committee.

Senator Dan Coats– (202) 224-5623

Senator Joe Donnelly–  202-224-4814

Rep. Jackie Walorski– 202-225-3915

Rep. Peter Visclosky– 202-225-2461

Rep. Marlin Stutzman– 202-225-4436

Rep. Todd Rokita– 202-225-5037-

Rep. Luke Messmer– 202-225-3021

Rep. Susan Brooks– 202-225-2276

Rep. Todd Young– 202-225-5315

Rep. Larry Bucshon– 202-225-4636

Rep. Andre Carson– 202-225-4011

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Comments (6)

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  1. Linda Dudine says:

    Erin…..I DID IT! I just contacted every person on that list! I have come to the conclusion that with ALL government, we no longer have the luxury to sit back and do nothing. Unless we start speaking up…..we can sit around and whine and complain until the cows come home!!!

    Time to get involved, folks. Pick up that phone!

  2. Jeannie says:

    People should listen to Anita Hoge’s interviews that she has recently done explaining what the Reauthorization is really about. She will be doing one Wed. Feb 4 at 11PM EST. To listen live Wed – on the
    phone -call @ 712-432-7855.
    or go to

    Last week’s interview (1 hr) is here:

    Earlier interview – starts about 27:00 and is about 2 1/2 hrs. long

  3. Cynthia Weatherly says:

    You are absolutely right on target with your conclusions. The alignment issue is the remaking of postsecondary/university level education. Very dangerous and underway as we speak, joined to the reconstruction of university education through the spread of Competency-Based grading. One other issue: The substitution of “career” for “vocational” in the wording of the reauthorization language gives the bill a whole different meaning. Look up “career” as opposed to “vocational” and you find that career carries the implication of a lifepath, not a job. Think about it.

  4. Robin says:

    Hi Erin,

    Glad we finally got a chance to meet. As my book Credentialed to Destroy explained in detail, until the hold of accreditation over these schools is broken, having the money follow the child just spreads the poison of Radical Ed reform.

    Your readers should also be aware of progressive federalism or polyphonic federalism since education starting with the NCLB is given as the prime example of all levels of government now working in harmony to drive the vision of a just, equitable society. explains it with cites.

    None of us will ever hear the term “locally-controlled” the same again. Especially after reading that governments should act as a stew for progressive change and no longer view themselves as a “marble cake”.

    James Madison and Monroe must be rolling in their graves over what is being done to the protections they created.

  5. Tilda lerner says:

    Hard to know who to trust out here in the interwebs. Yes people should be honest. The fact that they are not makes them swindlers and predators. Common core distraction. Kick the treasonous bums out. If you are not for our American Children then you ARE AGAINST THEM. Not cool.

  6. leon dixon says: Do we put Common Core on Mitch’s watch or Pence’s watch? The Legislature sure fouled up in both cases. I put it on Republicans in Indiana mostly because they lied then, they lied now, and they will be lying tomorrow. I don’t know too many Democrats in the Chamberpot of Commerce.

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