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House Speaker Boehner, Key Architect of NCLB, to Resign From Congress

By Andrew Ujifusa — September 25, 2015 2 min read
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Speaker of the House John Boehner will resign from his position and give up his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of October, the New York Times reported Friday.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, was elected House Speaker in 2010. He was the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce committee when Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, and played a key role in shepherding NCLB through the legislative process. At certain points, foreshadowing subsequent battles he would have with conservative tea party representatives while serving as speaker, he had to overcome objections from conservative GOP colleagues that the bill that became NCLB gave too much influence to the federal government on education policy.

Boehner will be the last of the four lead authors of NCLB in Congress to leave, following former Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and former Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. (hat-tip to Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute).

However, Boehner fell short of his original objective to include a voucher program in the NCLB bill.

More recently, Boehner’s been a supporter of the current House bill, known as the Student Success Act, to rewrite NCLB. And he’s backed the voucher program in the District of Columbia that’s frequently at the center of political fights in Congress.

Boehner served as chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee from 2001 to 2006, when he was elected House Majority Leader to replace Tom Delay.

UPDATE: Charles Barone, a top education aide to Miller during NCLB negotiations, recalled Boehner as “an incredibly good partner to work with” who simultaneously supported former President George W. Bush’s education agenda in Congress and was deeply invested in crafting a strong bipartisan bill.

“I think that was something he shared with Miller and Kennedy: Let’s try and do good policy here” and not let political considerations dominate, said Barone, who is now the director of policy at Democrats for Education Reform.

In Barone’s view, Boehner’s departure makes passing an NCLB rewrite during this Congress highly unlikely because of the difficulty of getting a final product over the finish line that also satisfies the same Republicans who pushed for Boehner’s ouster.

“The Senate is not going to pass a bill that satisfies every House conservative,” he said.

But Mary Kusler, the director of government relations for the National Education Association, had a different take.

“I think if anything, this should push Congress to get it done more,” she said. “A full reauthorization of this law presents another opportunity for a significant legislative achievement moving through. ... This provides additional fuel to the fire of moving forward and finishing these last negotiations that need to happen.”

In this July 9, 2015, photo, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

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