Count Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, among the folks who want to know exactly what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan means when he says he's going to consider giving states waivers from parts of the No Child Left Behind law if Congress doesn't act soon on a rewrite.
Kline and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who heads the subcommittee overseeing K-12 policy, sent a letter today to Duncan asking him to please explain a) where he gets the authority to do these waivers, and b) what exactly these waivers will entail. (IT'S A MUST READ!!)
Kline is especially uneasy with Duncan's assertion that the flexibility would be given in exchange for states' willingness to embrace a package of reforms dreamed up by the department.
The two congressmen want to see a detailed explanation of the proposal from Duncan by July 1. They also want to know when the plan will be finalized, how the department plans to seek review and public comments, and a timeline explaining just when the waivers would become effective.
Kline said he has been working on the legislation with Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the committee, and he said he has "fairly high hopes" that it could be bipartisan. He plans to introduce the legislation in July.
Kline said the committee is currently asking itself "accountability for what and to whom?" (a line he said that Miller has also used.) He's not sure the secretary of education is the right person for schools to be accountable to; school boards, parents, communities and others should be in the mix.