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Luetkemeyer Letter: Education Department Circumvented Congress on New Standards

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Location: Washington, DC

Concerned over the U.S. Department of Education's decision to circumvent Congress with major changes to education and student privacy policies, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3) today sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan demanding information regarding the implementation of these new policies and the authority under which the Education Department has acted.

Dating back to the 1960s, Congress has authorized and allocated funding for K-12 education policy through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) -- the primary vehicle for education reform on the federal level. Luetkemeyer noted in his letter to Duncan that since ESEA's most recent expiration, the Education Department has, without any Congressional input, moved forward with Common Core standards by enticing states with grants and waivers to adopt Common Core standards.

"Since the ESEA's expiration, the Department of Education has moved forward with education policy reform without Congressional input. Such action is, at best, in contravention with precedent," Luetkemeyer said in the letter signed by 33 of his House colleagues. "We believe that state-based education policies are vital to the successful education of a child. As with most one-size-fits-all policies, Common Core standards fail to address the specific needs of our states."

Luetkemeyer also raised concerns in his letter about two changes in which the government collects and distributes student data. Luetkemeyer has requested a detailed description of each change to student privacy policy that has been made during Duncan's tenure and the need and intended purpose for such changes. Of particular concern to Luetkemeyer were regulatory changes made without congressional review regarding parental access to student education records and limiting third party disclosure of that information.

"We also request that you submit to us the authority under which the Department has implemented Common Core and altered polices on student policy …" Luetkemeyer wrote.


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