Seriously, that's what he said:
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is threatening to use the power of his position to alter key elements of No Child Left Behind if Congress doesn't renew and upgrade the education law before the next school year begins.
Mr. Duncan is promising to waive specific requirements of the law in exchange for states agreeing to adopt other efforts he has championed, such as linking teacher evaluations to student achievement, expanding charter schools and overhauling the lowest-performing schools. Effectively, he's warning Congress that if it doesn't overhaul the nine-year-old law, he'll bypass lawmakers to get his way.
"Principals, superintendents and children cannot wait forever for the legislative process to work itself out," Mr. Duncan said in a conference call with reporters. "As it exists now, No Child Left Behind is creating a slow-motion train wreck for children, parents and teachers."
Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan have aggressively pushed Congress to overhaul the law and, until recently, it was expected to be one of the few bipartisan achievements this year. But Republicans have begun to push back, especially tea-party Republicans who want to reduce the federal government's role in K-12 schools.
Yeah, this stuff isn't sitting well with progressives who want to reduce the top-down Gates Foundation-promoted mandates Obama and Duncan have been promoting for three years either.
Luckily the Congress doesn't sound to thrilled by Duncan's threats:
Mr. Duncan's pledge to use the waiver process didn't sit well with two Congressmen working to renew the law.
"Given the bipartisan commitment in Congress to fixing No Child Left Behind, it seems premature at this point to take steps outside the legislative process that would address NCLB's problems in a temporary and piecemeal way," Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate education committee, said in a statement.
Rep. John Kline, Republican chairman of the House education committee, has said he feels no urgency to move a bill, despite Mr. Duncan's pressure. "He'd like to get this done before they go back to school in September. We're not going to do that," he said in a May interview with the Wall Street Journal. He said he hopes to have the matter settled in 2011, partly because it's more difficult to pass ambitious legislation during a presidential election year.
Mr. Kline is particularly hostile to Race to the Top, Mr. Obama's pet program that provides competitive funding for states that embrace the education changes he favors. The president has repeatedly cited this as a key to his administration's success in education and a blueprint in reauthorizing No Child Left Behind.
Jennifer Allen, Mr. Kline's spokeswoman, said the Congressman didn't know details of Mr. Duncan's recent waiver promise, but said, "Chairman Kline remains concerned about any initiative–including waivers–that would allow the secretary to pick winners and losers in the nation's education system."
Mr. Kline said his committee would pass legislation in small pieces so that members, particularly newly elected ones, can understand it.
Adopt "reforms" favored by the Obama administration, get NCLB waiver.
Don't adopt "reforms" favored by the Obama administration, don't get NCLB waiver and have all your states schools declared "failing."
This is extortion, plain and simple, and Duncan and Obama need to be called to account for it.
Jail is where they both belong.