Annual Testing, Common Core Hot-Button Issues in NCLB Debate

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Reposted from U.S. News & World Report:

Outnumbered by Republicans, Democratic lawmakers are jockeying to get their views heard as Congress moves ahead on revising the much-maligned No Child Left Behind education law. With votes anticipated in the House and Senate, House Democrats plan their own Capitol Hill forum on Thursday for changing the law — a protest of Republicans’ handling of the issue.

In the Senate, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, came out against a provision in a draft bill circulated by the panel’s chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., that would allow federal dollars to follow low-income students to a different public school. Annual testing requirements, Common Core standards and school choice expansion are all hot-button issues wrapped into the debate. Both sides heartily agree that the landmark law needs to be fixed, but tension centers on the level of federal involvement in classifying and fixing schools.

Complicating the issue, allegiances don’t clearly fall along party lines. Among Republicans, for example, some members want to essentially eliminate the federal role in education, but GOP-friendly business groups side with civil rights groups in support of a strong federal role. Teachers’ unions, historically aligned with Democrats, have criticized the Obama administration’s handling of education policy as having too much of an emphasis on testing.

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