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Arne Duncan: If Congress Can't Pass Gun Background Checks...

... will it ever agree on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act?

The U.S. Secretary of Education asked this rhetorical question today at Education Week's Leaders to Learn From event, addressing whether the No Child Left Behind Act will be rewritten by Congress before President Barack Obama's second term is over.

During this 30-minute back-and-forth with Virginia Edwards, Education Week's president and editor-in-chief, Duncan lamented Congress' failure to pass near-universal background checks for gun purchases as "extraordinarily disturbing."

And so when Edwards asked the secretary when ESEA will be reauthorized, he had no guess. After all, he said, if Congress could not agree on the gun background-check legislation, which Duncan said is supported by the vast majority of Americans in the wake of the Newtown shootings, how could politicians agree on a new law governing federal accountability for schools?

Of course, is there an educational powerhouse lobby that's the equivalent of the National Rifle Association, which put its full weight behind defeating the gun-control legislation? Or, is it that the weight of so many competing interests in education make the issue so politically difficult?

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