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Education Week Roundup, Sept. 26

Last week lacked the breaking news on the NCLB beat common in recent months. But the stories in this week's issue of Education Week dig below the surface of some significant developments. Throw in a couple of commentaries, and this issue has a lot to offer on the NCLB front.

In Law's Timeline on Proficiency Under Debate, I explain where key lawmakers and leading lobbyists stand on the deadline for universal proficiency by 2014. The goal once appeared sacrosanct, but it may not be now. Although I didn't have a fresh quote on this topic from Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, here's one I can add from a speech she gave Monday: The goal is not to be "doing nuclear physics or advanced calculus, but reading on grade level and doing math on grade level." And here's one from Monday that she has said before: "If someone told me I had to wait until 2014 for my daughter to read on grade level, I'd ask: 'Why not now?'"

For On Senate Panel, a Different Dynamic for NCLB Renewal, Alyson Klein surveyed bills introduced by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and discussed the political dynamics of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The upshot is that in the Senate NCLB is going to have some tough sledding—or kayaking, depending on which metaphor you prefer.

In State, Local Officials Press Special Education Concerns, Christina A. Samuels explains that people who have to implement NCLB aren't satisfied with the House's discussion draft for NCLB renewal.

In the Commentary section, Anthony P. Carnevale argues in No Child Gets Ahead that the current NCLB "doesn't help high-performing students in general, and may actually hurt high-performing students from working families." The solution, he says, is to create a system of "individualized standards" that are "tied to persistence and improvement in the educational performance on individual students."

And in Too Many Remedies?, Frederick M. Hess and Rosemary Kendrick propose a new formula for turning around schools that miss AYP. Give the schools the chance to fix the problem themselves, they write. If that doesn't work, follow up with "swift and sure sanction," they conclude. And don't miss their comparison of NCLB to the Wizard of Oz. I've heard NCLB likened to Russian novels, college football, and a host of other things. But never the wonderful wizard.

Finally, take a peek at the Federal File about the Department of Education's headquarters being renamed for Lyndon B. Johnson. I took the policy angle, talking about how LBJ would be disappointed that the federal government doesn't provide a greater share of the nation's K-12 money. But the human interest story behind the renaming also is a good one. The force behind the name change is named Lyndon K. Boozer, a lobbyist for AT&T. His first name is no coincidence. His mother was LBJ's executive assistant in the Senate, at the White House, and in retirement. LBJ offered her an extended maternity leave if she changed his name from Kyle Lyndon Boozer to Lyndon Kyle Boozer. He remains close to the Johnson family today.

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