Dear Commons Community,
The NY Times is reporting that a US Senate panel yesterday passed a new version of No Child Left Behind (Elementary and Secondary Act) that would greatly reduce the role of the federal government in K-12 education. This version is not likely to pass through both houses of Congress or be endorsed by President Barack Obama. The major stipulation of this new version is that the federal government (i.e, US Department of Education) would have a much reduced role in overseeing the country’s elementary and secondary schools. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, civil rights and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the legislation would so thoroughly eviscerate the federal role in school accountability that they could not support it. But education groups representing superintendents, principals, teachers and school boards said they were delighted.
The issue of federal involvement in K-12 education has been a major criticism of the current No Child Left Behind and continues to irk most educators who would prefer that education be controlled at the state and local level. After all they argue, the states and school districts provide ninety percent of the funding for education and therefore should be in control of standards, curriculum, teacher certification, etc. In years past, civil rights groups justifiably would argue that states and localities created underfunded schools for minority students and ignored the disparity that existed in the education of children of color. A compromise needs to be reached that ensures the role of the federal government in monitoring and correcting inequities while getting it out of the business of micromanaging education.
The issues associated with a new No Child Left Behind run deep and it will be interesting to see of how this bill winds through the legislative process.