NCLB Tip Sheet

Last month at the Dutko – Ed Week confab, the big question was, of course, so when will No Child Left Behind be reauthorized? The consensus, explicit from some, implicit from others, was that while the administration is working on reauthorization ideas, and incoming House and Senate education chairs George Miller and Edward Kennedy want to start work on the issue, the odds are long.

So like a day at the track, here’s an Eduwonk tip sheet to probable outcomes. We’ll update it as things progress. Of course, some of these scenarios are not mutually exclusive, but for the purposes of this exercise we’re treating each as independent. So here’s the post mid-term morning line:




Reauthorization prior to the 2008 election


If the Bush Administration wants to play for legacy and return to bipartisanship, this is about the only place they can look. And, leave aside the debate over funding, there is a fair amount of agreement on the core issues. Could be that even with higher education on the agenda, elementary and secondary education turns out to be the hot issue. Still, a lot has to happen for this to come together.

Reauthorization prior to the election based on the Aspen No Child Left Behind Commission’s report, due out in early 2007


If there is a pre-election reauthorization, this is the likely scenario. The Aspen NCLB Commission isn’t just going to offer up vague principles but rather something of a blueprint. If the administration wants to show that they still can be bipartisan and Kennedy and Miller want to protect much of NCLB, a deal around the Aspen blueprint could grease the skids for passage and enactment.

No reauthorization until after 2008 election


You’ll never go broke betting on gridlock in Washington! And, the agenda is awfully crowded on education, and in general. Coupled with a short legislative calendar and the fast approaching political season, hard to see all the complicated issues that have to be tackled for a comprehensive reauthorization being addressed before we choose a new president.

Competitiveness out- competes equity


Congress does like to do things on education and competitiveness concerns pave the way for a bipartisan education bill that avoids all the hard decisions on No Child and creates some feel-good initiatives focused on STEM careers. This could be the value play going into 2008.

National Education Association reasserts itself and rewrites the law to its liking


Sorry dues payers! As Ed Week bluntly titled a post-mortem on the 2001 NCLB enactment: “Unions’ Positions Unheeded On ESEA.” A Democratic majority doesn’t hurt them but doesn’t help them all that much either because there are bad feelings on both sides of the aisles about how the unions, especially the NEA, have approached the law since its passage. George Miller shows that liberalism doesn’t have to equal water carrying for them. But, if things start to look scary for Dems in 2008, the unions stock goes up. Still, a long shot.

Conservatives rollback the federal role in elementary and secondary education


The Republican Study Group would love to see it happen and No Child has created a new group of states’ rights liberals. But even though libertarian oriented Republicans are asserting themselves on the issue it’s hard to see them getting much traction.

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