As a part of another conversation recently, I came across a bunch of materials put together by the United States Department of Education to describe their role. The most interesting page to explore is titled What Is Not Part of the Department of Education's Role?
Here's an excerpt:
In creating the Department of Education, Congress specified that:
No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law. (Section 103[b], Public Law 96-88)
Now, I'm sure that Ol' Arne could probably spin some legal mumbo-jumbo about how nothing that the Department has done in the past few years violates this directive from Congress, but I ain't buying it.
The Department is clearly trying to exercise control over the program of instruction, administration and personnel of schools and systems, awarding heaping piles of cash on districts that redesign their teacher evaluation systems to align nicely with Duncan's nifty new agenda.
My only question is when are state legislators and local governments going to recognize -- and then regret -- that they've given away control to yet another bloated federal agency.