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NCLB May Move Forward, But Without Private School Choice

President Bush used his State of the Union address to once again call on Congress to reauthorize NCLB. But the one concrete idea he proposed in the speech—$300 million school choice program open to private schools—won't generate much enthusiasm from Democratic leaders in Congress.


Democratic leaders plan to move forward on their own terms. Still, they hope to work with the president. "I hope this is a turn [of events] that he will be a positive force," Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, told me last night. "But the track record is not good."

In particular, Rep. Miller said that the president and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings were two of the most vocal critics of the discussion draft that Rep. Miller and his Republican counterpart on the committee released last fall. What's more, the president has "poisoned the well" with many members of Congress by failing to propose adequate funding for the law in the past, Rep. Miller said.

Rep. Miller and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the chairman of the Senate education committee, are planning to push reauthorization, with the hopes of sending a bill to the president this spring. Rep. Miller would prefer that the bill be bipartisan, but he appeared to willing to move forward with a Democratic bill.

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