GOP on NCLB: Rollback or reform?

States would have more say in school reform under a No Child Left Behind rewrite proposed by key Republican senators, led by Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education. The GOP leaders are introducing five bills to reauthorize NCLB, also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

It’s a “stunning retreat on two decades of education reform,” blasted Democrats for Education Reform.

Senate Republicans to poor and minority children: Fuggedaboutit, headlines Dropout Nation.

Don’t “roll back hard-won progress in student achievement,” responded Education Trust.  “When left to their own devices, states have a long, well-documented history of aiming far too low and shortchanging the schools that serve our most vulnerable children.”

It’s a rollback of NCLB’s excesses that preserves education reform, writes Mike Petrilli on Flypaper.

The reform package . . . would eliminate “adequate yearly progress,” hand “accountability” back to the states, and undo the law’s “highly qualified teachers” mandate. But it doesn’t abdicate Uncle Sam’s interest in reform, or in the country’s neediest students. States would still be required to take dramatic action to turn around their very worst schools. Title I funding would continue to flow to the highest-need schools and districts. Students would continue to be tested in grades 3-8 and once in high school, and the results would continue to be reported widely and by subgroup. The approach is tight-loose, incentives over mandates, transparency over accountability. It’s “reform realism” through and through.

The bills require states to adopt college-and-career standards, but don’t push Common Core Standards.

One bill is modeled on the pro-charter school bill that passed the House this week.

Republicans are winning the education debate, writes Joan Richardson in Phi Delta Kappan. In the PDK/Gallup Poll numbers, “Americans favor charter schools (70%), favor allowing parents to choose a child’s school (74%), believe unionization is bad for public school education (47%), and that natural talent is more important than college training (70%). Any way you slice it, those ideas have been part of the Republican reform agenda.”