Ex-President’s Entry into NCLB Debate Could Endanger Reauthorization

February 05, 2008 1 min read
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President Clinton’s “train wreck” comments last week set off a discussion among the wonkish edubloggers. Phyllis McClure e-mailed me an several others that Clinton has amnesia. He forgets that he signed a 1994 law that had many of NCLB’s key elements and that his administration didn’t enforce it. Charlie Barone writes in two different items (here and here) that NCLB was the natural outgrowth of that 1994 law.

Leo Casey suggests that Clinton’s statement validates his theory that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., traded his endorsement for the NCLB vote of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. But Sherman Dorn sees nothing other than bare-bones politics: “I don’t think Bill Clinton gives a hoot about NCLB right now, but if he can use it to smear Kennedy and undermine that endorsement, he will.”

No one answers the question about NCLB’s future. Will the former president’s NCLB statements help or hinder the law’s reauthorization? Hinder, I say.

As I pointed out in this article now on, all of the key players are saying they want to reauthorize NCLB this year. But they still appear to be far apart on the specifics of NCLB’s divisive items, such as accountability, choice, teacher quality, and others. (See a rundown of issues in my Friday post.) Now the ex-president’s statement creates a divide among Democrats, including the two top candidates for presidents. Complicating things, both Sen. Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., are members of Sen. Kennedy’s committee.

The rumors are that the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will take up NCLB on March 3. If the Democratic presidential nomination is still undecided then, what are the prospects of that happening? Predictions anyone?

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.


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