Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Congress unlikely to act on ESEA reauthorization this year

NEA ESEA expert Joel Packer says the House Education and Labor Committee has yet to release a new draft bill or schedule a markup for ESEA reauthorization legislation, and it’s looking less and less likely to happen. On the Senate side, things don’t look much different. An Associated Press story over the weekend said that Senators Edward Kennedy, D-MA, and Mike Enzi, R-WY, who lead the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, have decided there is not enough time this year to finish work on the reauthorization draft.

Both Senator Kennedy and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller are deeply disappointed with President Bush’s failure to fully fund the law over the past six years, which has resulted in a $56 billion shortfall. The President's promise to veto this year’s education funding bill has further alienated the committee leaders.

In a major article in today’s Washington Post (“An Unlikely Partnership Left Behind”), Miller’s frustration with the President and NCLB is apparent: "’At the end of the day, it may be the most tainted brand in America,’ Miller mused. ‘If a consumer went to the shelf, they would not pick No Child Left Behind.’ A major reason, he said, is the product sponsor. ‘There's more resentment that the law is connected with George Bush than anything else. It's the biggest anchor that you're trying to work with something that's considered his franchise.’"

In the same piece, Kennedy admits to having been overly optimistic about the pace and progress of the reauthorization effort: "’I thought we would have a faster kind of process.’ But, he said, ‘No Child Left Behind, rather than being a flagship for improved strength and enhanced opportunity of e ducation for the children, has become a symbol of controversial, flawed and failed policy.’"