Call it what you want--buyer's remorse, reverting to form, Hoekstra's rebellion--but Congressional conservatives aren't going to accept NCLB version 2.0 without a fight. Rather, they're bent on emasculating or repealing it. That's the gist of House and Senate bills introduced today that would allow states to opt out of most of the federal law's requirements while keeping the money flowing. The Washington Post reports that the bills' authors have already lined up more than fifty GOP supporters--more than voted against NCLB the first time around--including House minority whip Roy Blunt and FOW (Friend of W.) John Cornyn, Senator from Texas. In the background, the Heritage Foundation is trying to resuscitate the 90's era "Straight A's" proposal, which NCLB, in the interest of bipartisanship, pretty much ignored. The concept was to give states lots of freedom to spend their federal education dollars in return for demonstrable, measurable, and improved academic results. This was the same reasoning as charter schools getting freedom in return for results. Unfortunately, today's bills deliver only the first part of that deal: lots of freedom without any coherent metric by which to know whether states' results are satisfactory. (No, we don't trust them to grade their own papers.) If the operational flexibility being proposed here were joined to the results-based accountability and comparability created by national standards and tests, you'd have a winning combination. Now all that's needed is a Republican presidential candidate willing to make that obvious case.

"Dozens in GOP Turn Against Bush's Prized ‘No Child' Act," by Jonathan Weisman and Amit R. Paley, Washington Post, March 15, 2007

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