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The State of the Union Speech - Why I'm Not Writing About NCLB II

In 2001 a new President with great momentum offered the Democrats a grand compromise in federal policy towards public education - demanding standards for a lot more money. Once the Democrats lost control of the Congress, the standards were in place, but the money didn't quite show up.

Eight years later a lame duck with little bargaining power, quite likely to be replaced by a Democrat, asks for approximately the same deal. Democratic constituencies that care about No Child Left Behind (NCLB) - and have the power to influence votes, know they will get a far more advantageous deal if any Democrat wins the White House, and nothing worse from any Republican.

The 2008 national election exerts enough of a draw on legislators' energies and the Congress has enough on its plate to push NCLB to the end of its "to do" list. From the perspective of providers and investors in the school improvement industry NCLB I will last to at least the end of the Bush Administration, and NCLB II will be more than marginally less advantageous. Between now and the inaugural, everything NCLB is so much trivia for eduwonks. The question for the industry is how to cope with the next new uncertainty.

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