GOP: White House taking over state education policy

The letter argued that the department appears to be developing Common Core standards in a way that takes control over education away from the states and hands it to the federal government.

"Though initially promoted as state-based education standards, Common Core standards, as they have been developed over the last few years, are nothing of the sort," the letter said.

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"In just one very troubling instance, Common Core standards will replace state-based standardized testing with nationally-based standardized testing, the creation and initial implementation of which will be funded in full by the federal government,” it continued.

The letter said the Common Core standards are a "one-size-fits-all" policy that fails to meet the needs of states. And, it encouraged Duncan to work with Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which expired in 2008 and has been the way Congress provides input into federal education policy.

The letter also raised questions about the Department's attempt to alter a 1974 law that ensures parental access to student education records. That law is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

"Once again circumventing Congress, in 2011 the Department took regulatory action to alter definitions within FERPA," the letter said. "With the technological advances that have occurred in recent years, changes to FERPA deserve the full scrutiny of the legislative process more so than ever before."

Finally, the letter said the department is asking states to help it track students by obtaining "personally identifiable information," as a condition of receiving Race To The Top grants. The letter asked the department to explain the authority it had to make that change.

The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), and 33 other Republicans, but none from the House Education & the Workforce Committee.