The ed-policy world is abuzz: ESEA now probably stands a better chance of being reauthorized than at any time since NCLB’s signing, thirteen years ago yesterday.
Given the statute’s scope, today’s debate could include countless issues, such as possible changes to Title II rules on educator effectiveness, the expansion of the charter school grant program, the introduction of a private school choice initiative, reconsideration of competitive grant programs (RTTT, TIF, i3), and much more.
But the question consuming virtually all oxygen is what will become of NCLB’s calling card, namely its tough rules on standards, assessments, and consequences?
Based on reporting as well as whispers, tea-leaf reading, and blind speculation, folks believe federal accountability is in serious jeopardy. In short, the Right wants to eliminate the "federal," and the Left wants to eviscerate the "accountability."
To better understand where things go from here, it’s worth pinpointing where we are in the order of operations. Typically, when the passage of federal legislation is on the docket, there’s a several-month-long window during which the views of the most important stakeholders are put on the potter’s wheel for molding. Advocates’ top targets all reside on Capitol Hill: Most important are the chairs of the relevant committees, committee members, party leaders, and all other members (and, not incidentally, the key staff to all of the above).
But since ESEA reauthorization is now overdue by the age of third grader, with lots of false starts along the...