May 26th, 2011
On May 25, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed HR 1891, a first, baby step along the path to reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Familiarly known as “No Child Left Behind” since 2001, when it was last reauthorized for six years, ESEA has been extended year to year since. The House Republican leadership has decided to use a piecemeal approach to reworking the controversial law, and HR 1891 does not wrestle with most of the complicated issues that will eventually be part of any reauthorization. Instead, its primary purpose – consistent with the priority House Republicans have placed on budget cuts – is to repeal authorizations for dozens of programs they consider duplicative or inefficient. No committee Democrats supported the legislation. The committee next plans to take up a second bill aimed at providing significantly greater flexibility for state and local entities when using federal education funds. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee chair Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who has been hoping to produce a bi-partisan, comprehensive ESEA reauthorization bill, has yet to move forward. Despite strong interest in revamping the law by the Obama administration and legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle, prospects for a final bill this year – or even before the 2012 election, remain uncertain. Key provisions of relevance to the CSU in ESEA relate to teacher education, which will be dealt with in a later House bill. The CSU, which prepares more than half of California’s teachers and roughly ten per cent of the nation’s, has provided federal policymakers with a list of its ESEA priorities related to strengthening teacher recruitment, preparation, and support.