This was supposed to be the year in which Congress finally reauthorized the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, which was supposed to be rewritten back in 2007. Almost everyone sees problems with the current law, but so far, there hasn’t even been a formal bill introduced remaking it. (Just a doomed discussion draft, introduced by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., back in 2007.)
Now it looks like Republicans are going to take the House of Representatives and maybe even the Senate. And the question is...might they be able to work with the Obama administration to get ESEA done before the presidential election takes over?
Some folks say no. They say that there just isn’t much middle ground between the tea party stance of “get rid of the Department of Education” and the Obama administration’s ideas, such as Race to the Top. Plus, they say, the atmosphere in Washington might just be too partisan to get anything accomplished. As Jack Jennings, a former Democratic Hill staffer, who now heads up the Center on Education Policy told me, Republicans won’t want to work with Obama, since he’s their next target.
But others say that there may even be more of a chance for a rewrite, if Republicans are in control. A GOP House (or Congress) will have to do something other than pass bills naming post offices, they contend. And as tough as K-12 policy can be, the two parties are arguably much further apart on issues like climate change, energy, health care, spending, immigration, taxes ... the list goes on.
On K-12 education, there’s at least agreement between many Republicans and some Democrats, including the Obama administration, that performance pay for teachers and good charter schools are smart policy. And nearly everyone in both parties thinks that NCLB has some very problematic provisions, they want to give their schools some relief from parts of the law.
Of course, under a GOP Congress, it might be tougher for the Obama administration to get a formal authorization for Race to the Top and to keep those four School Improvement Models in place. And choice and tutoring will likely be flashpoints, as will spending.
So what do you think? Better chance at getting a bill done with divided government? Or not so much? And will a bipartisan ESEA be a better product?
After you’re done with the poll, please elaborate in the comments section of this post.