from today's edition of Politico Morning Education By Maggie Severns
7July2015 :: YOUR #NCLB PREVIEW, STRAIGHT FROM LAMAR ALEXANDER AND ARNE DUNCAN: Both the House and the Senate are planning to take up their versions of No Child Left Behind this week, so let's not waste any time. Here are thoughts on the week ahead from education's biggest players:
- What's ahead in the Senate? Both Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander are pleased with the bipartisan work that's taken place this year on the Senate's education bill - but this week they're looking for very different changes. Alexander and his party will be looking for more school choice and local control in the bill, while Duncan and many Democrats want the opposite: stronger federal accountability. "There are a lot of contentious issues to deal with, and we'll have those debates on the floor," Alexander told Morning Education.
- Alexander has spoken with most of his caucus and said most Republican senators are "pretty comfortable" with the bill. Some want to see more school choice provisions and more local control, he said - but there's some support for more local control among Democrats right now, too. It's "very unusual" for teachers unions and the National Governor's Association to be in line with one another, Alexander noted. Overall his goal is to "have enough of a balance that it could pass the Senate and get President Obama's signature," Alexander said.
- Duncan emphasized the Obama administration "has no interest in a bad bill," like the one the House plans to vote on later this week. "This is really a civil rights law. We as a nation are grappling with some really tough issues," Duncan said, such as the debate this week in South Carolina over whether the state should fly the Confederate flag. The "next question" that people should ask about minority children in states like South Carolina, Duncan said, is "are they receiving the quality of education that they deserve? And I think the answer is: It's not even close."
- Odd couple alert: The Education Secretary and the HELP Committee Chairman are at odds politically, but rumor has it they get along. "I talk to Secretary Duncan regularly, had lunch with him the other day," Alexander said. "He has a big heart and he cares about children."
- National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García rallied teachers behind the Senate bill at the NEA's Representative Assembly over the weekend. "We have the opportunity to end the federal nightmare of toxic testing ... now is our moment," she told them. (H/t: Mike Petrilli). Full speech: http://bit.ly/1ID7WyI.