Alexander Still Thinks ESSA Deals With Common Core

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Photo credit: AMSF2011
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Photo credit: AMSF2011 (CC-By-2.0)

In an interview that U.S Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Education Committee, had with Alison Klein of Education Week he still insists that the Every Student Succeeds Act still prevents federal mandates, like Common Core.

“I didn’t trust the department to follow the law. … Since the consensus for this bill was pretty simple—we’ll keep the tests, but we’ll give states flexibility on the accountability system—I wanted several very specific provisions in there that [limited secretarial authority]. That shouldn’t be necessary, and it’s an extraordinary thing to do. But for example, on Common Core, probably a half a dozen times, [ESSA says] .. you can not make a state adopt the Common Core standards. And I’m sure that if we hadn’t put that in there, they’d try to do it.”

Alexander said that when he was education secretary during President George H.W. Bush’s administration Congress created the direct lending program, allowing students to take out college loans straight from the U.S. Treasury. Alexander didn’t like that program, but he implemented it anyway.

“Contrast that with the attitude of this secretary and this department,” Alexander said. Exhibit A: supplement-not-supplant.”That’s total and complete disrespect for the Congress, and if I was a governor I would follow the law, not the regulation.”

Here he says he didn’t trust the U.S. Department of Education to follow the law. The law gives the U.S. Secretary of Education the authority to approve state accountability plans. What makes him think they’ll listen on Common Core?

He sees they ignored Congress on supplement-not-supplant, so why in the world does he think they won’t do the same when it comes to Common Core?