On February 9, 2012, the White House announced that ten states had been approved for Conditions-Based Waivers (“ESEA Flexibility”) under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  As a part of the approval, states must comply with Department-imposed conditions.  Strangely silent, the Department provided no explanation of its specific legal authority to impose the conditions.  As explained in a paper (referenced in Bob Eitel’s blog post of February 9), he and I analyze how the Department is using these Conditions-Based Waivers to push nearly every state seeking a waiver to remain forever committed to the Common Core State Standards, the companion federally-funded assessments, and the curriculum which the standards and assessments necessitate.    

On the same day of the White House announcement, Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) introduced the Student Success Act (H.R. 3989).  In part, the legislation amends the ESEA waiver authority to prohibit the Secretary from imposing new requirements or conditions that are not specified in the Act.  Though there is no authority in law even now for Department-imposed conditions, the legislation takes the law a step further to include an outright prohibition.

The Student Success Act is one of several bills introduced in the House to reauthorize the ESEA.  Others are the Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act (H.R. 1891), Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 2218), State and Local Funding Flexibility Act (H.R. 2445), and Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990).