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NCLB Stalled, but Still Armed and Dangerous

George Miller is not making adequate yearly progress. Neither is Ted Kennedy.

As a result, reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law has been left behind, at least for now. Last month, Rep. Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the two main Democratic co-sponsors of the original legislation and the key congressional committee chairs pushing for its renewal, conceded that the prospects of passing a reauthorization bill in 2007 had faded. Prospects for 2008 are not looking good either.

But while the bipartisan consensus that passed NCLB in 2001 has fragmented, the old, unimproved version of the law is not going away anytime soon, and a better one is nowhere on the horizon. This means NCLB's "test and punish" approach to education reform will continue to abuse schools across the country, and its impact will worsen as increasingly unreachable test score targets and more drastic penalties kick in.

The law technically expired on Sept. 30, but was automatically renewed for one year. Congressional committee work on House and Senate bills will continue and efforts may still be made to move a reauthorization bill next year. But election-year politics makes passage unlikely.

This means the existing law is likely to be in place for at least several more years. Based on NCLB's track record so far, the consequences will be uniformly negative:

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