The Republican Party's adventures with Big Government Conservatism might be coming to an end, at least with respect to education policymaking. Representative John Kline of Minnesota is now the ranking minority member of the House Education and Labor committee, and seems eager to rethink NCLB from top to bottom. "I'm not looking to tweak No Child Left Behind," he told the Washington Post. "As far as I'm concerned, we ought to go in and look at the whole thing." This makes Dan Lips of the Heritage Foundation very happy, who sees this as "an opportunity for Republicans to return to their more conservative roots, favoring moving decisions back to states." Of course, House Republicans have about the same ability to stop Democrats in Congress as Andy Roddick has to stop Roger Federer. (We know it was close at All England, but the Swiss Missile has still won eighteen out of their twenty career matches.) Still, Kline might have an ally of sorts in Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who recently promised Kline that he'd push for higher standards but also wants to be "much looser at the local level, let folks innovate." That's not a bad formulation; it sounds an awful lot like the "Reform Realism" we at Fordham have been promoting for federal education policy. Now, if Duncan could go realist in all his endeavors, we'd be making some progress.
"GOP Leaving 'No Child' Behind," by Nick Anderson, The Washington Post, July 13, 2009