Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Well, I suppose that the day on which we are technically waiting is the day the President affixes his signature to a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but we have not even seen legislative language that had a chance of getting to the President's desk since No Child Left Behind was first passed in 2001. The Act has needed reauthorization since the beginning of the Obama administration. Were it not for a fights over health care and then a change in Congress, we would have gotten a reauthorization bill six or so years ago. After that, reauthorization became a pipe dream. Insiders had written off reauthorization until the next administration. But somehow, against all odds, the Senate's efforts to pass a reauthorization bill turned into the little train that could. Notwithstanding a House of Representatives at war with itself, the resignation of the Speaker of the House, and the resignation of the Secretary of Education, an unlikely bipartisan group in the Senate has trudged along to find a middle ground. The Senate and House reconciliation committee has now released what is a near final bill that will be introduced in both houses in about a week and should pass relatively easily.
None of this is to say the reauthorization bill is a good one. At first glance, it is a setback to a productive federal role in education. It may have made it this far for no reason other than the passage of time has lowered expectations so far that many would accept almost any bill that presses the reset button on NCLB and Secretary Duncan's waivers. Regardless, the long awaited bill is finally here. The full bill and a cheat sheet on what it does is available here.