Can we rewrite NCLB by August?

President Obama wants to rewrite No Child Left Behind before the start of the next school year. The “blueprint” for change includes easing the proficiency targets that his Education Department predicts 82 percent of schools will miss. On National Journal, Education Experts discuss whether a new education law can be passed by August and how it should be changed.

It’s no surprise that most schools won’t reach their goals, writes Steve Peha. Most educators aren’t really trying, knowing that nothing much is likely to happen if they fail.

One thing the anti-NCLB crowd doesn’t often talk about is that much of NCLB never got implemented because so many of the people it affected worked so hard to weasel out of it.

To make matters worse, states lowered their cut scores and made their tests easier to pass, schools and districts cheated on their testing, and much of the money that went to schools in trouble was wasted by people who seemed to prefer their troubles to positive change.

In his work as a consultant, Peha talked to many educators who hoped NCLB  would go away eventually. “And now it is about to.”

The very people who did the least to implement the law have won—to a small extent at least. Because all they had to do to “prove” NCLB a failure was not implement good practice.

“Most of the ideas floated for potential implementation seem weaker and less coherent than what we have now,” Peha writes. “I think the reason we haven’t reauthorized NCLB is that, for all its unpopularity, no one has come up with anything better.”

Despite the president’s call for action, House Education Chair John Kline won’t “rush” reauthorization, notes Rick Hess on Straight Up. “I’m not going to rush this and do it wrong,” Kline told The Hill on Tuesday.

NEA-friendly Democrats and small-government Republicans could block action in the Senate, predicts Hess, while “House Republicans who promised to dramatically shrink the federal footprint” aren’t “eager to pass an education bill that retains any federal role when it comes to school improvement or teacher effectiveness.”

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  1. I call BS on Steve Peha’s comments and the whole National Journals education section. I’ve noticed only invited participants can reply, which tells me they only want to hear from certain people.

  2. j.d. salinger says:

    I have the same complaint about National Journal in general and Steve Peha in particular, given his stated disinterest in curricula. Why are we supposed to feel privileged to read “royalty’s” opinions?

  3. Well gosh, he’s a software developer and high-tech entrepreneur, so he knows ALL about education reform, much more than a lazy veteran teacher like myself.