Speculations on the Future of Education Reform under New Congress

 

On November 16, 2010 Education Week reported online, "Politicians and experts say the big Republican gains in Congress will serve as a roadblock to further Democrat-led education reform efforts, including a likely decrease in big-ticket spending as [Republicans] seek greater fiscal restraint."  In the same article, Education Week reported that a House Republican leader said that it's time to pull Washington out of the nation's classrooms and stop using billions of federal dollars to bail out state education budgets and that, "Washington does not have the money and the states have got to face their own issues."  According to Education Week, further federal education funding for programs like the Race to the Top competition and the Education Jobs Fund "would almost certainly be blocked."  Despite the apparent divide between Democrats and Republicans, the parties appear to be willing to work together to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), a.k.a. the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 2011.  Education Week quotes one education expert as saying, "They're so close on this issue you could imagine both Democrats and Republicans saying, 'This is something we promised our constituents, that we'd fix No Child Left Behind'."  However, the biggest stumbling blocks to compromise between the parties may be some of the major components of the Obama's administration's March 2010  ESEA Blueprint for Reform, including turning around the lowest performing schools and adopting national common core academic standards. Most agree that the reauthorization of NCLB, which has been pending since 2007, must occur before the fall 2011 when the politicians begin gearing up for the 2012 elections.  An article published in the November 17, 2010 print edition of Education Week reports that, pending the reauthorization, school advocates are putting pressure on Education Secretary Arne Duncan to provide regulatory relief from some of the most burdensome provisions of NCLB.  They argue that school districts should not have to spend their limited resources trying to meet requirements that will likely be significantly revised in the reauthorized legislation.  The request for regulatory relief includes, among other things, temporary suspension of the consequences for schools that do not meet adequate yearly progress under NCLB.  However, an education expert is quoted as saying, "I doubt Duncan would do it, because it undercuts the urgency of revising ESEA."  The Secretary's office has indicated that the push for regulatory relief underscores the need for a comprehensive renewal of ESEA.

About Patsy Crawford

Patsy Crawford, Director of Legal Services, PCG Education, has over 30 years of legal experience and is responsible for providing legal and regulatory compliance support to the PCG Education management team. Since joining the firm in 1997, Patsy has worked closely with school district administrators and PCG Education managers and consultants to coordinate with state and federal Medicaid agencies to protect and improve billing programs for school districts. She has provided direct legal support to PCG Education projects in multiple states across the country.

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