This “new” ESEA bill introduced (good Politics K-12 overview here) by a group of Republican Senators – Alexander (TN), Burr (NC) Isakson (GA) and Kirk (IL) – is basically a time machine back to the 1990s. There are some sensible ideas – I don’t think anyone really argues that the “highly qualified teacher” have worked. But overall it’s just a pre-No Child version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with some extras like program consolidation thrown in. In fact, some of the same folks who back then were attacking the Clinton Administration’s approach to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as lacking teeth now want to take us back to the days when states got to decide how much an inch was and pick their own rulers to measure. No Child Left Behind is far from perfect and long-overdue to be updated at this point but this would be a big step backwards. If the only bipartisan thing going in education is to toss minority and poor kids in the nation’s exurban and suburban communities under the bus because accountability is politically and substantively difficult then that’s not a bipartisanship worth having.
4 Replies to ““New” ESEA Bill”
This bill would be a step back to the Dark Ages for Republicans and indeed all of us.
These “new” policies aren’t new at all. They were common before the IASA. Take a look at the first dismal NAEP scores registered for Tennessee as well as the stagnant NAEP scores from the late 80s to the mid-late 90s, and you’ll see their impact on student results. Not good.
If these Republicans want to be really “true to their school,” they ought either to ditch funding along with accountability or else return to assuring that federal dollars require choice and accountability. Spending without accountability and choice makes no sense at all.
The “new” ESEA bill may not present the high standards set forth in NCLB, but those standards were never enforced. We can belittle the “new” ESEA introduced by the Republicans as a less ambitious plan, but is it any better than the NCLB plan that was more ambitious but ineffective. There is no need to position this debate along partisan lines.
Although NCLB passed 384-45 in the House, and 91-8 in the Senate, the educational establishment was never on board to implement it. The tragedy is that NCLB had so much potential to impact the quality of our nation’s education system by introducing high standards and measurable goals, but it lacked the will of the politicians and bureaucrats charged with implementing it and/or enforcing it.
NCLB was never going to be the silver bullet, but it gave us hope that those in power were, at the very least, paying attention to the poor educational standards set for our students. Just when it appeared that we might be taking a step in any direction, we tripped. We have to get up and try to take another step.
There is something remarkable pathetic about being an education expert. Might as well be a breathing expert, or a walking expert, or a fitness consultant. There is something weak, contemptible, almost genetically defective about it. Most people wrinkle their noses at it.
Those of us who now add all of the value in the public schools with math and science want the edu-expert neanderthals off our backs.
As my mother, a Columbia Ph.D in economics put it so well,
“If you take a single course in education in college, I WILL STOP PAYING YOUR TUITION.”
I love you mom. Thank God I am NOT an edu-expert.
Thanks for the great article and update on NCLB. As bad as the standardized test assessments stuff is, it’s a lot better than what came before! Sort of like Churchill said — “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest”. I’m afraid if it’s not reauthorized, people will just sweep so many of our problems under the rug.