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Rep. Jackson Joins School Boards' NCLB Bill

What does the namesake of a civil-rights leader from the South Side of Chicago have in common with a Caucasian Republican from Alaska who lives seven miles north of the Arctic Circle?

They agree on how to fix No Child Left Behind.

Boardbuzz—the official blog of the National School Boards Association—announced in this item that Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill., has endorsed the association's NCLB bill. The bill, H.R. 648, is sponsored by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, a former teacher.

This alliance shows how mixed up the politics of NCLB can be. Jackson's action is another sign in the split among members of the Congressional Black Caucus (which I've written about here and here). Likewise, Young's sponsorship of the NSBA plan highlights that not all Republicans fit neatly into the same NCLB camp. NCLB stalwarts want to hold the line against changes, while conservatives want to turn all of NCLB into a block grant. Yet Young and five other Republicans are aligned with a school organization that wants significant changes to accountability and other measures without block granting the bill's programs. Jackson is the third Democrat to co-sponsor NSBA bill.

The Boardbuzz item links to a helpful document that compares current law, the NSBA plan, and the House discussion draft. You can see that NSBA would get some of what it wants from the House draft. Is it enough to win the association's endorsement? In testimony and written comments to the committee, NSBA stopped short of backing the draft, saying it appreciated some of the proposals and is concerned about others.

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