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Duncan on ESEA: You Don’t Want A Weak Bill

By Alyson Klein — November 02, 2011 1 min read
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So, after pushing Congress for years to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it doesn’t sound like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is such a fan of the bill that passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month.

Here’s what he told my colleague, Stephen Sawchuk of Teacher Beat fame in an interview earlier this week. Steve asked him what he thought of the bill’s teacher evaluation provisions, which were scaled back to garner GOP support.

“I appreciate folks are working together [on K-12] education—it may be about the only issue right now,” Duncan said. “I’m encouraged about the process, but it can’t just be about the process, it has to be about the product. You don’t want to have a weak bill or a bad bill at the end of the day.”

He said he thought some parts of the bill were very strong. But in other areas, the bill might represent “a step back on raising standards and accountability. We’ve seen so much progress, we’ve got to keep getting better, not going backwards.”

And he added that there are lots of opportunities ahead to continue to shape the bill.

The administration expressed its concerns with the bill’s accountability provisions, which would allow states to decide whether to intervene in most schools up to states, here.