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The Washington Post Nails Story on NCLB Horse Trading

Eduwonk has a long list of complaints about yesterday's Washington Post NCLB story. Eduwonk's criticisms are valid on policy grounds. But he glosses over that the story has two basic ingredients of excellent journalism.

1.) Peter Baker prods important people to say things publicly that they have said privately. He digs up telling quotes from meetings that happened in January and last week. (My favorite is from Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., on the president's promises for NCLB funding: "I bought a horse from that man once. I'm not going to buy another horse from him.") He reports on a conversation that the convalescing Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., had with the president. He explains the most obvious reasons why NCLB reauthorization is stalled. He also shows why the unusual Bush-Kennedy-Miller alliance is fractured today. It's not because of major disagreements about policy. It's about broken promises—perceived or actual—about funding. As I have written on this blog before, that is the next NCLB battle. Unlike reauthorization, that fight will happen between now and the end of the year.

2.) The Post story has everyone talking. Most of my conversations yesterday with education policy folks touch on the Post story. The Post's Web site has a long list of bloggers who have linked to it. It even missed some (see here and here).

Did Baker miss the chance to explore the details on accountability, teacher pay, and other vital issues in reauthorization? Yes. But that's for reporters and bloggers who focus on exclusively on policy to dig into. It'll be nice if the Post joins us. We'll have plenty of opportunities to do so in the next three years.

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