It is looking more and more like the Senate will be the first to move on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
But ironically, in the last Congress, the staff talks seemed to go further over on the House side. Of course, that was before the election changed the landscape.
Still, the new chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., and the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. George Miller of California, seem to have done a bit of thinking about where they want to take the reauthorization. Here’s where they seemed to agree in separate interviews last week:
• The No Child Left Behind Act needs to be fixed, sooner rather than later.
• The administration’s four school improvement models need to be overhauled. Miller thinks there needs to be more in the models on community and school staff buy-in. And he’s a fan of wrap-around services to compliment academic interventions (like social services and mental health).
• The current law’s teacher provisions need to be reworked to include more of an emphasis on effectiveness (as demonstrated by student outcomes).
And I’ve heard that both lawmakers were talking about taking the administration up on parts of its consolidation plan, which would merge smaller U.S. Department of Education programs into broader funding streams.
Miller would really like to see both the Race to the Top competition and the i3 competition extended. But Kline doesn’t favor that.
And for now at least, neither of them seems too wild about the idea of fixing the law through the regulatory process, an idea a number of groups are pushing.
“I’d much prefer to rewrite the law and get the law right to make sure it works for local districts and schools,” Miller said. “We’re not here to throw out responsibility that we have to poor children,” racial minorities, and special populations, such as English-language learners, he said.
For more on ESEA, including how Miller is planning to deal with the Democrats intra-party divisions over teachers, check out this story.