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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Boehner Resigns: Passage of No Child Left Behind Reauthorization Uncertain

Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.    September 27, 2015

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced on September 25 that he will retire from Congress at the end of October.

This throws a monkey wrench into the work for passage of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).  NCLB was due for reauthorization in 2007.  Even though that never happened, Congress has continued to fund the expired legislation. 

Reauthorization requires both chambers to agree to a compromise bill.  Each has passed a bill -- the House’s Student Success Act (SSA) and the Senate’s Every Child’s Achieve Act of 2015 (ECAA).  After an August break, Congress was to form a conference committee for consolidating the bills into a single version for the final vote in each chamber.   The final version would have to satisfy Obama to secure his signature to pass the bill into law. 

However, according to Alliance for Excellent Education, President Bob Wise, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 18 years, Boehner’s resignation greatly “shifts the deck.” 

Since it is the Speaker of the House who decides what legislation gets to the floor and the conditions for its consideration, Boehner’s resignation makes it unlikely that Republican votes will be secured for a bill that must also be acceptable to both Democrats and President Obama.

As House Speaker, Boehner would have played a key role in negotiating a compromise bill with opposing parties and a wide range of political views.

It is important to note that after Boehner met with five House conservatives on Thursday afternoon, he announced his resignation the next morning on September 25.

Given this, the new speaker will have to navigate through more conservative waters than did Boehner, making it unlikely to strike a compromise that will satisfy the House Democrats and President Obama to pass the reauthorization.

With other major issues on the table besides ESEA, it is unlikely that Boehner will devote his attention to ESEA before he leaves.  So that shifts the ESEA authorization to the new speaker and, at the moment, it’s not clear who that will be and when or if he will move ahead with crafting a compromise.

Meanwhile, America will be left with the horrendous NCLB and NCLB waivers that are granted with the wave of D.C.’s magic wand.  With no opt-out provision provided by law, we can expect more showdowns between the feds and the states as greater numbers of parents refuse to allow their children to take the punitive, demoralizing tests.  But with the 2016 election looming on the horizon, President Obama, Arne Duncan, and his replacement John King may just lay low.

A better solution than reauthorizing ESEA would be to repeal it altogether, since the legislation is unconstitutional.

I’ll keep you updated in coming weeks over the reauthorization of ESEA.  For sure, it’s going to get exciting as the public’s anger ratchets up over the next few months.

Copyright 2015 Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. All rights reserved.   

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