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ESEA in the House

According to this, the House Ed Comm will introduce two Republican-only bills in early Feb, on on teacher "effectiveness," the other on accountability. But this writer thinks it unlikely a bill will pass this year.

Dec. 26, 2011 -- 11:21 a.m.

*Kline Aims for Broad --- but Not Necessarily Bipartisan --- 'No Child' Rewrite*

By Lauren Smith, CQ Staff

The top Republican on the House education committee plans to change his approach to rewriting the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind by moving forward without panel Democrats and by putting aside his piecemeal legislative strategy.

Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline <http://www.cq.com/person/3421> of Minnesota said earlier this week that the two sides had stopped making progress together on overhauling the law (PL 107-110 <http://www.cq.com/law/107/110>) as part of a reauthorization and that continuing the talks would only stall the process further.

"We were continuing to be mired, and I think it's important to move legislation forward," he said in an interview. "We've indicated that while we'd certainly like to keep talking, that we're going to move forward with this thing and produce language whether or not they're engaged."

Rep. George Miller <http://www.cq.com/person/34> of California, the top Democrat on the committee, slammed Kline last week for abandoning bipartisan negotiations on overhauling the law. Miller argued that Kline's decision would prevent the law from being rewritten in the 112th Congress.

Kline argued it would be better to offer partisan legislation than no legislation at all.

"George Miller <http://www.cq.com/person/34> and I have come very close on a number of occasions to agreeing, but there have been some provisions that they continue to push that we can't support and vice versa," Kline said. "So we can continue to do this in January, February, March and April and not bring anything up. But we thought it would be better to go ahead and produce language."

*Comprehensive Legislation*

The panel's output has not been particularly bipartisan to this point.

Kline has been taking a piecemeal approach to overhauling the law, and the committee has passed three bills that would expand charters schools (HR 2218 <http://www.cq.com/bill/112/HR2218>), consolidate more than half of the program under the Education Department (HR 1891 <http://www.cq.com/bill/112/HR1891>), and give states and school districts 100 percent flexibility in how they use federal dollars (HR 2445 <http://www.cq.com/bill/112/HR2445>).

Only the charter school bill garnered bipartisan support and passed the full House. The other two were approved by the committee on party-line votes and have yet to be taken up on the House floor.

According to Kline, the committee will introduce two additional pieces of legislation in early February that would revamp the current accountability system and address teacher effectiveness, the two most divisive provisions in No Child Left Behind. In writing those bills, Kline plans to include language from the three committee-approved bills. He did not offer specifics, but he said his aim is to overhaul the law in a more comprehensive way.

"You'll see a more comprehensive look at this when we bring up the next bill," he said, adding that it would be structurally similar to the 868-page bipartisan draft bill approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in October. "Some of the earlier language will be folded in, and it will look a whole lot more comprehensive moving forward."

A spokesman for Miller called on Kline to resume negotiations to write a broad bill.

"At the end of the day, if Chairman Kline would like to attempt to draft a comprehensive, bipartisan bill, we are happy to talk," spokesman Aaron Albright said. "However, we haven't heard from the majority since they notified us that they were working on a partisan bill."

*New Due Date: 2013*

Although a more comprehensive bill would be structurally easier to conference with the Senate's bill than piecemeal legislation, it does not mean the outcome will be bipartisan.

And if it isn't bipartisan, education policy experts said, it's not likely to reach the president's desk.

"That's not going to be signed into law," said Joel Packer, an education lobbyist for the Raben Group, a liberal lobbying and public affairs firm. "It could potentially even be one more factor as to why the Senate never takes up the [Senate] bill. If they don't see a likely path forward, that's one more reason why leader Harry Reid <http://www.cq.com/person/337> may not bring up the Senate bill at all."

Two months have passed since the Senate panel approved its bill, but the measure has not been officially reported out of committee with a number. The hold up is not typical, especially for major pieces of legislation. Harkin and ranking Republican Michael B. Enzi <http://www.cq.com/person/541> of Wyoming probably are having trouble drumming up support for a bill that walks such a fine line between Democratic and Republican priorities. Without a clear path forward in the House, committee leaders may not want it brought to the floor at all.

If that happens, renewed efforts to negotiate a reauthorization would not likely begin until January 2013, with a class of new members --- and potentially a new president --- whose priorities may not include rewriting the law or tackling education issues at all.

"There was an expectation that this was low-hanging fruit because education is typically a place where Congress can find common ground," said Jennifer Cohen, education policy expert at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. "But this dashes all those hopes to me. We won't see No Child reauthorized before the presidential election."

Source: *CQ Today Online News*

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Monty Neill, Ed.D.; Executive Director, FairTest; P.O. Box 300204, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-477-9792; http://www.fairtest.org; Donate to FairTest: https://secure.entango.com/donate/MnrXjT8MQqk