President Obama’s just announced non-defense discretionary “freeze” proposal doesn’t make ESEA reauthorization any easier…
Update: Commenter Doug correctly notes that education may be spared some — as last week’s RTT announcement illustrated — and the administration is leaving itself wiggle room in this proposal overall. But that’s not the point. This is still bad news for ESEA for two reasons.
First, traditionally it takes big dollops of resources to buy reform in education. For instance, don’t believe the rhetoric, in the first few years President Bush put billions of new dollars into No Child Left Behind, increasing federal spending on K-12 by almost 40 percent. That was the political grease for reform. Second, the Obama “freeze” proposal is not receiving bouquets from the left. So it doesn’t help with already strained intraparty Democratic politics further complicating a successful ESEA reauthorization.
Update II: Petrilli thinks the Republicans will like this and perhaps want to work with Obama now. Even better, he says, the education groups will be satisfied with all the stimulus money already spent! Petrilli is apparently easily fooled. The groups were looking for more funding after the stimulus last year so it’s inconceivable they will not want more this year. Besides, when has the education system ever said it had enough money and was ready for some good ‘ol reform? For the Republicans’ part, it’s more likely they will just up the ante in the fiscal restraint game. The President says $250 billion in savings over the next three fiscal years and they say good, but not good enough, let’s do $350. There is an arms race quality to these gambits. And even after the Brown win there are still not enough Republicans to tilt this issue anyway so ESEA reauthorization will require a pretty united Democratic caucus in the Senate. But most to the point, did Petrilli not get the memo that the Republican game plan this year is to deny Obama victories not enable them?