It is always a fun game to ask those “in the know” when they expect the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to be reauthorized. In 2007, we saw several draft bills that some thought were indications that reauth would happen before the elections. Those drafts quickly stalled, and we started talking 2009, 2010, 2011, and beyond.
Recent reports had been tagging ESEA – and yes, most are now referring to it as ESEA and not NCLB – reauthorization for as late as 2011. The thinking has been that 2009 is slated for healthcare reform, 2010 has a student loan priority, so ESEA must be coming along in 2011.
The reauthorization waters have only been muddied further with discussions on economic stimulus, Races to the Top, common standards, and such. Some will even go as far as to say that common standards is the priority, and the push for national standards will simply be put into place through EdSec caveat, without the need to codify under ESEA. After all, EdSec Arne Duncan has made it pretty clear that he is relatively content with NCLB, needing just some minor tweaks to funding priorities and programmatic emphasis.
But Eduflack is starting to hear a different story with regard to reauthorization. It is a major priority for the EdSec and his senior staff. So much so that the current plan is to make ESEA reauthorization a Capitol Hill priority this fall, with hopes of signing the new law into the official record in the early part of 2010. So we are facing a possibility of 2009 reauthorization after all. The game is back on.
If the schedule holds, many are going to be caught by surprise with the accelerated schedule. The education chattering class is thinking reauthorization is months away, and is putting their attention on other issues and other priorities. If the new ESEA process is really just months away, the education blob has a great deal of thinking to do. Summer school is in session, and those who want their voices heard during reauthorization better be ready to advocate loudly and clearly when the new school year starts this fall. Otherwise, they could be left behind for another five to eight years.
(And as for the new name, today’s WaPo made clear that NCLB moniker has been put to bed. Earlier this year, Eduwonk held a rebranding contest, receiving more than 700 entries. Check out the best of the best here. If only naming were our biggest concern.)