The chairman of the House education committee says he wants to revisit the No Child Left Behind Act on schedule next year and make it a bipartisan effort. He’s so serious, in fact, that he may be willing to jettison an idea popular among his fellow Republicans.
At a panel discussion last month, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said he plans to push forward with the NCLB reauthorization on schedule, going against the conventional wisdom that his committee will be too busy with other education bills to take on the main K-12 law.
“We’re planning on moving quickly,” Rep. McKeon, who became chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee earlier this year. “My goal is to get it out next year before we get too far into the presidential election.”
When asked whether private school choice would be part of the debate over the law, Rep. McKeon said he didn’t think so, even though many Republicans have advocated the idea.
“We can talk about vouchers, but politically, that’s a dead issue,” he said at a Sept. 20 event sponsored by the Business Roundtable, an influential Washington group of U.S. corporate chief executives.
Rep. McKeon said he also would work to expand access to tutoring and other supplemental services for students who attend schools that consistently fail to meet their achievement goals under NCLB.
The agenda might not be much different if Democrats win a majority in the House in November’s general elections.
Rep. George Miller of California, the leading Democratic prospect to become chairman of the House education panel, said last week that he would get right to work on reauthorizing the 4½-year-old NCLB. Rep. Miller is a critic of vouchers, as are most other Democrats.
Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, also plans to begin work on NCLB early in 2007 and hopes to push a bill through the Senate by the end of the year, said Ryan Taylor, a committee spokesman.
Whether the reauthorization happens next year or not, groups are jockeying as if it will.
Last week, for example, the Business Roundtable announced it has formed a coalition with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also based in Washington, and other business groups to maintain the law’s focus on improving student achievement.
A version of this article appeared in the October 04, 2006 edition of Education Week