Federal Opinion

Beware The Ides Of March

By Alexander Russo — March 05, 2007 4 min read
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There are two big events taking place a week from tomorrow -- a joint House-Senate hearing on NCLB reauthorization and a higher ed Spellings Commission “what did it accomplish” event.

The NCLB event, sponsored by the big four (Miller, Kennedy, McKeon, and Enzi) includes as witnesses mostly the usual suspects. The hearing, titled “Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization: Improving NCLB to Close the Achievement Gap,” will be held in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building on Tuesday, March 13, 2007, at 9:30 a.m. Click at bottom to read the members’ pull quotes.

It’s interesting to note that while there is no one from the USDE that is on the scheduled witness list, Spellings herself is scheduled to show up at an event later the same day called “Higher Education after the Spellings Commission: An Assessment.” At the Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI, 1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. MILLER, KENNEDY, MCKEON, ENZI ANNOUNCE JOINT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairmen George Miller (D-CA) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Ranking Members Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) today announced a joint hearing of the House and Senate education committees on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on Tuesday, March 13. Witnesses will include representatives of coalitions and education organizations that will discuss the progress that schools have made since No Child Left Behind was enacted and offer recommendations for improving the law.

“The No Child Left Behind law has stirred one of the most vigorous and sustained debates about education policy in the history of U.S. public education,” said Rep. Miller. “Now, it is time for us to learn from that debate what Congress must do to improve the law so that it works as well as possible for children, teachers, and parents. This law is critical in our efforts to create a world-class system of public education for all children. It is clear that the law needs significant improvements, and our goal is to hear from as many stakeholders as possible so that we can make those improvements this year and achieve the goals set out in No Child Left Behind: narrowing the achievement gap and raising achievement for all students.”

“We need to take action this year to help our public schools advance – not retreat – to respond to the challenge of providing a good education to all students and closing the achievement gap,” said Sen. Kennedy. “At issue is our economic strength, our commitment to opportunity, and even our national security. We have an obligation to revisit the No Child Left Behind Act so we can build on its strengths, meet the concerns about its implementation, and encourage reforms that will help students succeed. We must ensure that the law lives up to its promise and works for our nation’s children and our nation’s schools.”

“I’ve long said that this reauthorization will be the most important No Child Left Behind ever will see,” said McKeon. “We’re faced with the choice between moving forward and maintaining a commitment to accountability and choice, or reverting back to the policies that let down far too many for far too long. I’m confident that we’ll resist the urge to turn back and instead tackle the challenges that still face many of our schools. By infusing more flexibility and choice into the system, I am confident that we will continue to see academic improvement across the nation, and I look forward to hearing from and working with stakeholders from outside the Beltway in reaching that goal.”

“In five years under No Child Left Behind, we have seen improvements in student achievement all across America, but there is still work to be done to ensure that the Department of Education, the states, and local communities are able to work together and continue to focus on increasing student achievement and closing the achievement gap,” Sen. Enzi said. “The next step is to determine how we can help schools that are faltering and give them the tools, resources, and flexibility they need to implement strategies to improve student performance. Renewing and improving the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is critical to ensuring that America’s students have the knowledge and skills to be successful in the 21st century global economy.”

The hearing witnesses are:

* Gov. Roy Barnes, Aspen Institute Commission on No Child Left Behind
* Elizabeth Burmaster, Council of Chief State School Officers
* Mike Casserley, Council of Great City Schools
* Wade Henderson, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
* Ed McElroy, American Federation of Teachers
* Arthur J. Rothkopf, Business Coalition for Student Achievement
* Reg Weaver, National Education Association

The hearing, titled “Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization: Improving NCLB to Close the Achievement Gap,” will be held in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building on Tuesday, March 13, 2007, at 9:30 a.m.

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