What can we expect for education policy during President Obama’s second term? From No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers to school choice, education policy will surely heat up in the coming months.

No Child Left Behind Waivers. NCLB’s blunt attempt to drive accountability from Washington has resulted in many schools being labeled “failing” while little is done to improve results. The Obama Administration, however, has chosen to circumvent Congress to provide an alternative to the largest education law.

The White House has offered waivers from selected provisions of NCLB to states that agree to adopt Administration-approved education policies. This has created a bad precedent that provides neither long-term relief for states nor a solution to the underlying problem with NCLB: an accountability system directed toward bureaucrats, not parents.

Reauthorization of the 600-page law is unlikely, but absent reauthorization, the law remains in effect. It’s unclear how Education Secretary Arne Duncan will enforce NCLB in states that did not receive a waiver. The waivers have created a two-tiered system in which half of the country must abide by the law while the other half, willing to embrace new executive branch regulations, now operates functionally outside of the law and by a different set of rules.

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