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How Long Will Wait Be for Next NCLB?

Last week, I asked: Will Congress take four years to reauthorize NCLB? After all, it took lawmakers that long to come to an agreement on changes to Head Start. And they still haven't settled on a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, also four years late. BoardBuzz read that as an ominous warning that NCLB might be in place until 2011.

I didn't mean to scare school board members or predict the NCLB will go unchanged until this year's kindergarten class enters 4th grade. But I did want to point out that Congress has been postponing reauthorizations of education bills. The delay on NCLB reauthorization is routine.

Take a look at the past three reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Act. In 1988 and 1994, Congress was one year late. In 1999, several bills to reauthorize ESEA programs cleared the House, but they died in the Senate when the presidential campaign was in full gear. When President Bush signed the NCLB bill, it was two years and three months behind schedule.

Back in January, Washington insiders predicted that NCLB would be reauthorized after President Bush leaves office. (See this Education Week story.) So far, their prediction looks to be on target. Beyond that, nobody knows for sure.

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