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Four Words Not Heard Much Lately: No Child Left Behind

By Alyson Klein — July 30, 2009 1 min read
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Education has been on the national stage plenty lately. (In fact, Politics K-12’s own Michele McNeil talked about the $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund on National Public Radio’s “To the Point” just yesterday.)

But, we haven’t heard much about the law that has dominated education policy for going on nine years now: No Child Left Behind.

For those who need a quick review: The bill was scheduled to be reauthorized back in 2007, but Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ran into a brick wall when he took a crack at it, because of lack of consensus on teacher pay and issues around how to measuring student progress.

After that, everyone expected work on the new bill to get going once a new president took office. And, as we’ve pointed out before, it should, at least on the surface, be a little easier this time. Miller and the Obama administration share very similar views on education.

Still, the debate hasn’t moved forward very much, at least publicly, in part because of the stimulus, which made some major changes on education policy. That may have alleviated some of the pressure for renewal.

And, in case you haven’t heard, Congress (including the committees that oversee education) is very busy working on student loans, and especially, health care. In fact, over at Eduwonk, Andrew Rotherham, a former Clinton administration official, sketches out how the health-care bill and NCLB renewal may be linked.

The upshot? Anything can happen, but don’t hold your breath for a reauthorization, or even any major action on renewing the law, this year. In fact, many folks say that lawmakers are waiting for the administration to unveil its plan for reauthorization before they get going on a bill. Right now, observers say that seems likely to happen in January. My money’s on a mention in Obama’s State of the Union Address.

But, if you want to brush up on the law in the meantime, check out Education Week‘s Spotlight on No Child Left Behind, which includes five articles and three commentaries in a downloadable PDF. More information is available here.

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