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June 08, 2011
June 09, 2011
November 05, 2008
We finally have a serious, thoughtful ESEA reauthorization proposal in the Senate, one that should gain support from both sides of the aisle and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But here's a warning: it's not the bill that scheduled to be marked up tomorrow.
No, that bill, authored by Senate education committee chairman Tom Harkin and ranking member Mike Enzi, is a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas that should alarm folks on the right and the left.
And sure enough, progressives have already made their opinions clear on why the bill should be stopped dead in its tracks. But it should offend conservatives (including the Reform Realists among us) too, though for very different reasons. Such conservatives should back the aforementioned proposal put forward by Senators Alexander, Burr, and others, instead.
Here are the Harkin-Enzi bill's major offenses:
Any one of these would be a poison pill for conservatives. Taken in combination, it makes Republicans' decision easy. Scrap the bill and start over?with Senator Alexander's proposal as the jumping-off point. It's a much stronger bill, closer in many ways to the Administration's own Blueprint, and much more serious about re-calibrating the federal role in education. And if Democrats won't go for that?well, wait for a more favorable environment in 2013.
* UPDATE 2:09 p.m. Or just say maybe? As reported by Anne Hyslop at Education Sector's Quick and the Ed blog, negotiations over the weekend have led to the release of an updated version of the Harkin-Enzi bill. It strikes federally-mandated teacher evaluations and, as a result, removes the requirement that "effective" teachers be distributed equitably across the state. The "highly qualified teachers" provision still remains, though. These are definitely steps in the right direction but not enough, in my view, to qualify the bill for support. But I'm feeling more hopeful: At this rate, Harkin-Enzi will evolve into Alexander-Burr by Friday.