Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Can Anyone Change No Child Left Behind?

Andy Rotherham has a much more thoughtful take on renewal of ESEA/NCLB:

So, bluntly, the Obama Administration wants and needs an education win from overhauling No Child Left Behind. Republicans understand those politics and are seeing what they can extract from the Administration in exchange for passing a bill. This dynamic worries some observers. One civil rights lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid about the Administration, told me, "They want a notch in their belts more than good policy" at this point.

That concern is echoed by many supporters of the law's emphasis on accountability for traditionally underserved students — especially minority and low-income students — and by some Democratic moderates on Capitol Hill. They worry that the Administration will acquiesce to a gutting of the law's accountability rules — especially for suburban schools where the law's focus on underserved students has caused the most discomfort — as part of a deal with congressional Republicans who dislike the federal intrusion the law represents. Such a deal would also please the powerful National Education Association, which loathes the law's emphasis on accountability.

Despite that odd convergence of interests, the passage of a new education law still seems like a long shot this year. More immediate issues — like budget fights about continuing to fund the federal government — are so far dominating attention on Capitol Hill. At the same time, many new members of Congress are still getting up to speed on No Child Left Behind and are in no hurry to act until they do. After Obama's speech on Monday, House Education and Workforce Committee chairman John Kline released a statement basically saying, Thanks, but we'll do this on our own timeline.

More substantively there are still big areas of disagreement not only between the two parties but within each party, too, and also between the House and the Senate. Differences over how to measure school performance and teacher performance, and how to deal with low-performing schools, are among the thorny issues.

Most problematic, however, is that there is no action-forcing mechanism. Or to put it another way, almost nothing happens if Congress doesn't act.


School of Thought

Can Anyone Change No Child Left Behind?

By Andrew J. Rotherham Friday, Mar. 18, 2011,8599,2059562,00.html#ixzz1He8VDJcS

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