Leading Source

Can New Year, fresh drive, push through old stalemates ?

Some New Year’s resolutions are harbingers of great change, others merely wishful thinking. Arne Duncan’s commentary on ESEA reauthorization this week in the Washington Post, is not a resolution per se. But the education secretary’s piece is brimming with New Year’s enthusiasm, in this case confidence that key members of Congress — in fresh, bipartisan fashion — “are poised to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).”
Duncan call’s his plan for a more workable ESEA a “common-sense agenda [that] also reflects the bipartisan revolution underway at the state and local level” to improve student achievement.

Does the secretary have this right? That’s a tough one to answer — or, in the words of that hoary (but useful) journalistic cliché, “Time will tell.”

This month I have an ASBJ story about where experts think the new Congress will take federal education policy, especially ESEA. And the experts say … well, to tell you the truth, the experts are all over the map, even on whether legislators will even get to ESEA in the coming years.

“I wouldn’t see where — politically — it would be in [the GOP’s] interest to give Obama an education victory,” said Jack Jennings, president and CEO of the Center on Education Policy.

Or, as Angela Palm, director of Policy and Legislative Services for the Georgia School Boards Association put it when asked about ESEA reauthorization: “I don’t see that happening until after the next presidential election.”

Michael Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for advocacy and issues management, is more optimistic. “Very likely, if you have a Congress and a president that have trouble getting together on a lot of issues,” they might see education reform as a winning issue that shows they can work together, he said.

Maybe that’s what Duncan is counting on too. In his column, he also noted the unprecedented cooperation of more than 40 states to develop common core standards and assessments, something that could provide a blueprint of sorts to members of Congress. 

So will this be a banner year for education reform? You’ve heard my answer: “Time will tell.”

Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|January 4th, 2011|Categories: Governance, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: |


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