Education Insider: ESEA Reauthorization


ESEA Reauthorization

Secretary Duncan is aggressively urging Congress to complete the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year. In March, the Secretary released a Blueprint for Reform articulating the Administration's priorities in areas such as college and career ready standards, programs to support teacher and principal effectiveness, funding to support STEM, and policies to expand charter schools, Promise Neighborhoods, Investing in Innovation Fund, and Race to the Top. At the same time, existing programs including Supplemental Educational Services and the Enhancing Education Through Technology were proposed for elimination.

As was the case with NCLB, the reauthorization of the federal law will likely have a tremendous impact on the education landscape over the next decade. The law guides the vast majority of federal K12 spending and also includes key parts of the regulatory and policy framework for state departments of education and school districts.

The U.S. House of Representatives attempted to take up reauthorization in 2007, but had to pull back the discussion draft after it failed to garner the support needed to advance the bill. Congress was consumed for most of 2009 and 2010 with the contentious healthcare debate, which slowed legislative progress on a number of issues including energy reform, financial regulatory reform, and ESEA reauthorization. Secretary Duncan continues to push hard for reauthorization while the Senate and House education committees have held a number of hearings to inform their efforts. However, there has been little actual legislation introduced much less debated. There are rumors of a potential pending markup, but with the midterms only months away, some believe reauthorization is stalled for this year.

As a result, there is significant uncertainty about the timing of reauthorization, how the legislation will change key aspect of accountability, teacher effectiveness, and school turnaround, as well as how funding would be allocated to states, school districts, and schools.

We asked our Insiders a range of questions including:

  • When the final ESEA bill be signed into law?
  • What are the most important and also the most contentious issues that ESEA will address?
  • Will there be additional funding for more rounds of Race to the Top and the Investing in Innovation and will these initiatives be folded into ESEA?
  • Will the set aside of funding to support public school choice and supplemental services tutoring remain in the final law?
  • Will Congress pass the $23 billion Keep Our Educators Working Act or any other education jobs bill before the start of school?
  • Will ESEA include changes that would allow for-profit education providers to directly apply for grant funds in programs such as I3 and the Charter School fund?
  • Has the lack of progress by Congress on the reauthorization of ESEA politically weakened the Administration?
  • Has the Administration been politically weakened by Congress‰' lack of response to the Secretary‰'s continual calls to reauthorize the law as soon as possible?
  • On the heels of NCLB, is the public more willing to see an expanded role for the federal government in public education or would they prefer a more limited, focused approach?
  • Will the House or Senate switch parties after the midterm elections and if so, does that help or hurt reauthorization?

Some surprising findings:

  • Insiders believe we may not see a final ESEA bill until the end of 2011, and a surprising 40% believe it could be 2012 or later.
  • There is less support in Congress for advancing charter schools, Common Core Standards, and other reforms in ESEA then many advocates have assumed.
  • Insiders believe there is more support in Congress for Supplemental Education Services and online learning than what the conventional wisdom has suggested.
  • More than 90% of the Insiders believe that the Recovery Act funds actually slowed the pace for reauthorization.
  • More than 80% of Insiders approve of the Obama Administration's handling of education issues.

Download the 37 page report for all the results. You can also access the recorded webinar where we discussed the findings with special guests, Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Alice Cain, former Senior Advisor to Representative George Miller.