Diligent readers will recall that at a March gathering of the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, state superintendents said they wanted a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act more than anything else. Despite the universal sentiment that Congress would not oblige this year, the state chiefs, when not savoring a puckish joke based on cryptozoology, trudged up to Capitol Hill to elbow, nudge, and otherwise cajole their congressional representatives into reauthorizing the law as soon as possible.
That message is being hammered home again in a May 3 letter to congressional leadership. This time, several groups are swinging the hammer. The CCSSO is joined by the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities, among others, in calling for Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and others to move House and Senate bills dealing with ESEA to the floor for action, in order to reauthorize the law before the 112th Congress adjourns.
"We need certainty in federal policy at a time when we are struggling with reallocating scarce education resources to fund what works. We need federal policy that instead of focusing on process and compliance, allows for state and local innovation," a portion of the letter reads.
They say the process of granting waivers from No Child Left Behind (the latest reiteration of ESEA) provides only "temporary relief" and could disadvantage some states and students.
Given the stubborn inaction by Congress on ESEA, the letter could be greeted with an outburst of shrugging on Capitol Hill. But the letter does show that the genera and species of public officials very irked by that inaction are not confined to school board meeting rooms and state education departments.