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In a World Without ESSA, How Would the Candidates Have Handled Waivers?

By Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa

Thanks to the Every Student Succeeds Act, we know that No Child Left Behind waivers are on the way out—they'll officially be history on August 1, 2016. But we got to wondering: What if ESSA hadn't crossed the finish line and the next president still had to deal with waivers in 2017? How would some of the candidates have handled them?

Indulge us in a little snarkiness as we imagine the candidates' reactions if they had had the chance:

Hillary Clinton: "Let me check with Randi and Lily and the folks over at the Center for American Progress and get back to you."

Donald Trump: "I can't tell you what my plan for waivers will be. But I will negotiate a great deal with states and it will be terrific. You've never seen waivers like these. You're going to love them. And I'll put Omarosa in charge of them."

Ted Cruz: "Imagine a state that makes the common core illegal and adopts the K-12 curriculum created by the Koch Brothers. That's a state that gets a waiver."

Marco Rubio: "My father was a bartender, so I believe a state should get a waiver if its chief gets me a drink. Make it a bottled water."

Jeb Bush: "I have a devious plan to force states to copy pretty much whatever Florida is doing in exchange for waivers."

Martin O'Malley: "Any state that gets ranked number one by Education Week's Quality Counts report gets a waiver."

Bernie Sanders: "However they handle waivers in Denmark sounds good to me." 

Chris Christie: "A state will get a waiver only if the chief punches the state teachers' union president in the face."

Ben Carson: "Look, just calm down, speak softly, and your state will get a waiver. Otherwise it will get pretty brutal."

Carly Fiorina: "As long as states agree not to use any Hewlett-Packard products in their schools, and to keep the demon sheep away, they'll get waivers."

Jim Gilmore: "Can your chief pick me out of a lineup with George Pataki, Jim Webb, and Lawrence Lessig? If so, congratulations, your state gets a waiver."

Rand Paul: "I'd love to give your state a waiver, but first I need to get rid of the U.S. Department of Education."

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