No Child Left Behind was signed into law in 2002 with bipartisan support from President Bush and the late Senator Edward Kennedy.
While bipartisan dissent emerged pretty quickly over the issues of implementation, many states, including Virginia, felt that the Federal law was weaker in substance than Virginia's accountability system and was in reality an impediment to its implementation.
Former US Senator George Allen challenged the Bush administration not to mess up what we had produced. While President Obama's first term started with strong Federal oversight, the administration's feet crumbled as reelection season appeared and the thought of failure was greater than the reality of compromise.
The name for the capitulation was "waivers". President Bush's Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings commented while in Richmond that the waivers were not good ideas…she wanted the Fed to hold the states accountable.
Of course part of the initial accountability push had included a sweep of local data solely for the purpose, as Sec Arnie Duncan admitted to the state chiefs, of putting some sunshine on it.
The House has now passed without a single democratic vote a bill amending NCLB to give the authority for "curriculum, testing, and spending" back to the states. The President has vowed to veto it, and the Senate is not likely to pass it.
With no Federal mandate for education and a 10th Amendment that gives the responsibility to states, what is the argument? As for the President and Secretary Duncan, what do you really believe? Maybe its not waivers…maybe its wavering!