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NCLB Debate Doesn't Take a Holiday

Congress has set aside its debate over NCLB, but the public hasn't. The law, its virtues, and its flaws have been featured all over newspapers, magazines, and blogs over the past few days.

Monday's Washington Post examines the decline in the amount of music instruction since NCLB's enactment. Over at the Quick and the Ed, Kevin Carey corrects the Post's math and points out the narrowing isn't as serious as the newspaper reported.

In the American Prospect, Richard Rothstein predicts that NCLB won't survive the congressional postponement. Republicans aren't loyal to President Bush, as they were in when the law passed in 2001, and they have "rediscovered their belief in local control of education," Rothstein writes. Democrats were hoping the law would be a reason to flood schools with federal money, but they've discovered that the accountability rules have "corrupt[ed] schooling in ways that overshadowed any possible [test] score increases."

In the end, Rothstein predicts: "Eventually, under a new administration, [the Elementary and Secondary Education Act] will be renewed, perhaps including vague incantations that states establish their own accountability policies, once Washington abandons the field."

But BoardBuzz doesn't want Congress to wait for a new president. It points to a school board member's op-ed that calls for Congress to fix the law now. "Students should not be told to 'wait it out' until after the 2008 presidential election when Congress can find the time to fix an unsound and underfunded law," John Pennycuff, president of the Winton Woods School District Board of Education, writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Finally, the vacationing Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute got so exercised over a line in my latest NCLB story that he e-mailed to tell me. I wrote that "supporters of [NCLB] suggest that many of its goals will be undermined" if Congress doesn't reauthorize it in 2008. Not so, Coulson wrote me. He pointed me to his op-ed on international test scores, which found no perceptible change in U.S. students' reading achievement and decline in their mathematical abilities.

And I thought I would lack material for the blog on the week before Christmas.

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