Obama whips out the waiver wand

Does your state want to be exempted from undesirable accountability requirements imposed by the No Child Left Behind law?  President Obama’s got you covered (as long as you play by his rules).  According to the Washington Post,

Senior administration officials said waivers will be awarded to states that adopt academic standards that ensure their high school graduates are ready for college or a career, measure school performance not merely by test results but by student improvement over time, and evaluate teachers and principals using a variety of measures, including but not limited to student test scores.

States will be required to launch “rigorous” campaigns to turn around their lowest-performing schools — the bottom 5 percent. And they will have to devise ways to focus on students with the greatest needs in another 10 percent of schools with low graduation rates or large achievement gaps between students of different races. States will also have greater flexibility with about $1 billion in funding for schools attended by poor children.

When Congressional Republicans and Democrats passed the No Child Left Behind law in 2002, it included a provision that allowed the education secretary to waive “any statutory or regulatory requirement” of the law.

Here are a few political science questions for you.  Why did Congress give power to the Executive branch to “undo” parts of a law?  Does this violate the United States Constitution? (Specify articles and sections in your answer.) What is the “separation of powers” and does it still exist?

2 comments

  1. I was a kid in the early 1960s when the Congress first considered a federal aid to education bill. The Wacko Right Wingers went crazy predicting all kinds of federal control over local education. Never in their wildest nightmares did they predict it would go this far.

    Comment by Michael Sanera on September 23, 2011 at 8:50 am

  2. Federalist #51 explains the separation of powers and checks and balances this way:

    “But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department [branch] consists in giving to those who administer each department [branch] the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others.”

    The constitutional means are the checks and balances. Unfortunately, Congress today, for the most part, has distorted Madison’s definition of “personal motives” to the all consuming desire to get reelected and that means they escape electoral accountability by passing their legislative responsibilities to the president.

    It’s a very sad story.

    Comment by Michael Sanera on September 23, 2011 at 8:59 am

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