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Obama Admin. Concerned With Harkin-Enzi Accountability

By Alyson Klein — October 21, 2011 1 min read
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Sounds like the Obama administration is less than thrilled with the accountability provisions in the ESEA-reauthorization bill passed out of the Senate education committee yesterday.

No press release or anything, but earlier this week, the Education Department quietly updated its blog to reflect that they would like to see stronger accountability provisions in the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Here’s a snippet:

Increased flexibility at the state and local level is consistent with the administration's policy on waivers and our Blueprint for Reform. However, it is equally important that we maintain a strong commitment to accountability for the success of all students, and I am concerned that the Senate bill does not go far enough. Parents, teachers, and state leaders across the country understand that in order to prepare all of our young people to compete in the global economy, we must hold ourselves and each other accountable at every level of the education system- from the classroom to the school district, from the states to the federal government."

Check out the whole post here.

Their concern is not a surprise, of course, given that the waiver plan the administration put forward retains something closer to the current system of adequate yearly progress than the Harkin-Enzi bill would.

The administration sent a statement to reporters on Oct. 17 citing concerns with the changes to teacher evaluation in the measure. But that statement didn’t specifically cite accountability as a concern, even though a lot of business groups, state chiefs, and civil rights advocates are unhappy with the measure.

Also, interestingly, the administration put out a supportive statement when the bill was introduced, but they didn’t send anything similar to reporters after it was passed.

Of course, the bill didn’t change too much during markup. In fact, the most substantial change during committee consideration was an amendment by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., which would allow states to come up with their own plans for turning around the lowest performing schools. And that can’t be something the Obama administration, which crafted the current models, is particularly happy about.