Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, January 11, 2010

NCLB Reauthorization

On Saturday, the Washington Post looked at the Obama administration's upcoming No Child Left Behind reauthorization push.

The gist of what will happen is best summed up by Diane Ravitch:

"They're really not going to repudiate No Child Left Behind," Ravitch said. "They're just going to rename it and add the twist of more choice, more accountability."

Like Mayor Bloomberg, like Bill Gates, like Eli Broad, like all the hedge fund managers/education "reformers," Obama wants to destroy teachers unions, sell off the public schools to the privatization folks, and make schools into 10 hour a day/300 day a year factories for churning out good corporate employees willing to work longer and harder to make a lot less than their parents and grandparents.

More change we can believe in from the Change We Can Believe In President.

One thing I would note about the NCLB fight - Obama is a weakened president already. Whatever cache and juice he had last year has been tarnished - people on the extreme right think he's a foreign-born terrorist, people in the middle are unhappy with the bailout policies and overall direction of the country, and some (though not nearly enough yet) on the left see him as corporate sell-out.

Obama can be fought on this.

Had he pushed through NCLB in 2009, he would have gotten everything he wanted.

But with Ted Kennedy deceased and Chris Dodd so weakened by his Countrywide scandal that he is retiring from the Senate, Tom Harkin is the new head of the Education Committee. Ed Week says the administration may actually get some opposition from Harkin to their reform plans:

Frederick Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, said he sees Harkin as “more of a traditional Democrat on education issues” than Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and an author of the NCLB law.

“Assuming that the administration is interested in promoting Race to the Top-style priorities through the [NCLB] reauthorization, Harkin could be trickier for them,” Mr. Hess said

As chairman, Harkin may provide a needed check on the administration’s agenda, Hess said. “We need more speed bumps, and Harkin is certainty more likely to be a speed bump than Dodd” would have been.

Also, Obama has spent a lot of political capital on the still incomplete health care reform measure, the economy remains in bad shape for nearly everybody but the people who work on Wall Street, unemployment remains at 10% and a double dip recession is not out of the question once government stimulus spending comes to an end. Obama will take a lot more heat in the coming days for the bailout mess as it becomes quite clear that his treasury secretary, Timmeh Geithner, gave away the store to Goldman Sachs, et al. And that's assuming that the terrorist threat doesn't continue to occupy much of his time and energy.

My point about all this is we may have a bit of an ally in the Senate to pushback on Duncan and Obama on some of the reforms they want to push and much of the country, weary already of President Accountability and his economic policies and the health care fight, may not be so thrilled about the permanent systemic change he wants to bring to education.

The key is to get the unions to see that Obama is weakened and can be taken down in this fight. Randi is a collaborator by nature, so I worry that despite a president with a tanking popularity and enough opposition in the country to push back against ed deform, she'll choose to cave instead.

Guess we'll just have to see.

In the meantime, I'm hoping the Repub actually wins that special election up in Mass (it may be close) and sends President Accountability his own accountability message - liberals are pissed off at him and willing to see his administration and its corporate-friendly agenda go down in flames rather than vote for crap they don't want just because it's a "Democrat" giving it to them.

Not to mention that would be the end of the health insurance giveaway program Obama is terming "reform," which just might be the best thing that could happen for both the long-term health of the Democratic Party and the country at large

1 comment: