Friday, February 11, 2005

Proposed Expansion Of NCLB Meets Surprising Resistance

In yesterday's Spellings Report, we here at the 'Wonks forecast certain success of the Administration's efforts to expand the No Child Left Behind Act to public high schools.

Today, CNN
is reporting that the Administration is running into some unexpected resistance from some of the same Republican Congressmen and Senators who had enthusiastically endorsed NCLB the first time around. CNN reports:

Congressional education leaders are wary, if not opposed, to the way Bush wants to change high school, as outlined in his new budget proposal. He wants to spend $1.2 billion on high school "interventions," for example, but erase about as much from vocational education. Interventions could include dropout prevention efforts, individual assessments of students and programs to better prepare poor students for college.

That trade-off drew resistance from Rep. Mike Castle, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce's subcommittee on education reform. "It does not look likely" that Bush's testing plan will go forward in Congress, said Castle, R-Delaware.

"Personally, I believe in it. I think everybody would like to see us do more at the high school level, but there may be certain members of Congress who don't think Congress should be involved," Castle said at an education forum. "I can't give its chances as being very high at this time, but I've seen stranger things happen. So hopefully something can be worked out."

Rep. John Boehner, chairman of the full committee and a stalwart defender of the No Child Left Behind law, has been noticeably noncommittal about Bush's idea. Boehner, R-Ohio, praised Bush for a proposal that he said would "spark a healthy debate" in Congress.

In the Senate, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, GOP Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, pledged to "carefully consider" Bush's high school ideas.

This just goes to show that even when both the Executive and Legislative branches of the Federal Government are controlled by one party, Washington politics are never certain, easy, or cheap.

We think that in the end, the Administration will get it's way. We here at the 'Wonks know what will be done in order to secure the necessary votes for passage of the expanded NCLB Act. In the truest tradition of Washington politics, those members of Congress that are resisting the Act today will become very ardent supporters of the expanded Act in the near future. And the reason why these opponents to the act will become backers of the Act can be explained in one word: pork.

It's just a question of how much pork each member will require in exchange for his or her support when the proposed Act comes to a vote on the Senate and House floors.

As money is the "mother's milk of politics," so are "pork-barrel politics" the standard operating procedure in the Nation's Capital.

The sad thing is that all this posturing, bargaining, bribing, and other forms of back-room politics will waste both time and money.

The sadder thing is that all these unnecessary delays will hurt kids.