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Waivering as Governance: A New Model of Federalism in Education

Project Team:

Sponsor: Miami University (Ohio)/Spencer Foundation

Project Total: $25,570


This project explores how the Obama Administration is using its power to grant waivers from education policies and assesses whether they are using this power differently than previous administrations and/or other sectors (e.g., health or welfare).  Specifically, the case study project focuses on the 2011 US Dept. of Education’s move to allow states the opportunity to apply for more flexibility from No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  States could request release from NCLB accountability in exchange for enacting various education policy reforms.  The goal of the project is to understand how these waivers fit into the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) design.  The approach focuses on analyzing the shifts in more recent governance as a way of exploring the political values placed on educational policy at the federal level and how this has shaped state education policy.   The analyses in this project will not only shed light on the ESEA waivers in relation to waivers in other areas of the government, but also on the future of educational governance and social decision-making.