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NCLB Reauthorization Not On Schedule
posted by: Alix | July 28, 2011, 04:33 PM   

In the midst of the debt ceiling crisis, the prospect of meaningful action on education seems laughable on Capitol Hill this summer. As congressional leaders scramble to broker a deal on the debt, education and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind, has been pushed aside seemingly indefinitely.

The 9-year-old law has seen its share of debate since the Department of Education introduced their blueprint for change last spring, a document issued to create a framework for federal reforms. The original target date for an NCLB overhaul was Easter. Then it was late spring. Now it's sometime this year– if ever.

While the House has begun the process with a 5-part series of targeted bills, a bipartisan, comprehensive reform of the nation's most important federal education legislation still seems far from wrapping up, according to congressional insiders on the House side.

In a closed door meeting with House education leadership, it was noted that not only are the bills cleared through committee not on the schedule for a full House vote, that they have not seen any movement from the Senate on their proposed plan. Without a clear plan from both chambers, the bill is sure to take a back seat to other pressing legislation.

Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Labor, and Pensions, declined an interview yesterday with education reporters about specific plans for reauthorization. While he joked he about not being able to meet any timelines issued, it was noted that the committee under his watch currently does not have a public draft of legislation.

Currently, Senator Harkin is negotiating with his Republican panel colleague Senator Enzi on a bill to present from the Senate. Harkin aides were quick to say that the negotiations are going well, but major issues including "accountability, teachers, and comparability are still under debate." Despite the internal talks, Senator Harkin said he was hopeful for a future bipartisan product. He further speculated that a bi-partisan bill was more likely in the Senate than the House, pointing to the proposed cutting of federal programs by the House that yielded exclusively Republican support.

Meanwhile at the Department of Education, the plan to issue state blanket waivers this school year has lost steam after several prominent Democrats spoke out against the plan. Senator Harkin has expressed his discontent for the waivers; so has Congressman Miller, the top Democrat on the House education panel. Insiders predict that with the staunch opposition, Secretary Duncan has accepted a momentary truce for an unspoken deadline of reauthorization in 2011.

While only time will tell how and when NCLB is overhauled, re-authorization and reform remain a top priority according to both the Obama administration and congressional leaders.

Do you think Congressional leaders will reach a compromise in 2011?

Comment below.

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