NAICU Washington Update

NCLB/ESEA Flop This Session

December 20, 2011

Despite months of behind-the-scenes work by House education staff, and the Senate committee mark up of a draft bill, there will be no reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB/ESEA) this year.  As a result, the full focus for reforming teacher education will now fall on the upcoming Department of Education negotiated rulemaking sessions (see Washington Update Nov. 5, 2011, story).

In both chambers, controversy over education reform got the best of the good intentions for ESEA reauthorization this year.  The Senate committee bill was more a negotiation between Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) than an inclusive deliberation engaging all committee members.  Cautious about the rumored hundreds of amendments drafted for floor debate, Harkin said in late November that he wouldn't bring his bill to the Senate floor unless the House first produced a bipartisan bill.

The House education committee wrote three bills - on charter schools, elimination programs, and flexibility for states and localities in their use of federal dollars.  However, the committee never tackled the more difficult areas of accountability and teacher evaluations.  Only the charter school bill has passed the House floor on a bipartisan vote; the other two came out of committee with party line votes.

ESEA was last rewritten as the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, and is now several years overdue for updating.  Most states are frustrated with the NCLB student achievement reporting, and are requesting waivers from the U. S. Department to implement their own systems.  For its part, Congress wanted to have the bill rewritten before the Secretary of Education could change policies via regulation and waivers.

This January, the Department will begin negotiated rulemaking sessions on Titles II and IV of the Higher Education Act, with the potential of huge implications for college teacher education programs.  The sessions will focus on state and institutional reporting on teacher evaluations, and the service and repayment obligations in the TEACH Grant program.

In announcing the regulatory process, Secretary Arne Duncan commented that the report cards should focus on "student achievement growth, job placement and retention, and teacher graduate satisfaction with their preparation."  He also has advocated replacing the TEACH grants with Presidential Teaching Fellowships. The new fellowships would provide a $10,000 award in the last year of teacher education preparation for high achieving students in high performing programs - basically changing TEACH grants from an incentive to a reward.

Private non-profit colleges will be represented at the negotiating table by David Prasse, dean of the School of Education, Loyola Chicago.  Mary Kay Delaney, head of the Department of Education at Meredith College and NAICU's nominee, would serve as alternate.

In preparation for this regulatory process, NAICU has begun surveying members on their teacher preparation programs.  Those members who have not yet completed the survey from November 9, are asked to do so as soon as possible.  NAICU plans to resend the survey information after the first of the year to gather more feedback to guide the association's policy discussions.

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