In a December 1 Associated Press article, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who will chair the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) when the new Congress convenes in January, says that his top education priority is enacting legislation to fix the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act early next year.
Alexander, who said that the Obama administration acted like a “national school board” through the waivers it granted to states from certain requirements of NCLB, tells the Associated Press that “excessive regulation of local schools by Washington is getting in the way of better schools.”
At the same time, Alexander understands that President Obama will ultimately have to sign an NCLB rewrite before it can become law. “We’ll work with Secretary Duncan and the president in hopes we can persuade them that what we want to do is also what they want to do,” Alexander says in the article.
Alexander’s time frame for rewriting NCLB is in line with opinions expressed in a recent Alliance for Excellent Education webinar on post-election prospects for education reform. During the webinar, Phillip Lovell, the Alliance’s vice president of policy and advocacy for comprehensive high school reform, characterized Alexander as “eager to legislate” and predicted some movement on NCLB “early into the next year.”
He was joined in that opinion by Alliance President Bob Wise. “For the first time, I’m actually thinking something could move,” Wise said. “The question is whether it could move‚ whether a House bill can conference with the Senate, but, even more importantly, reach an agreement that the president will sign. I think he’s probably inclined to want to sign something, but I don’t think he’s going to sign just anything.”