Friday, February 26, 2010

Bipartisanship in education policy is a process, not a prize

In response to Nick Anderson's February 18 Washington Post story "Lawmakers to launch a bipartisan effort to redo No Child Left Behind" Amina wrote a letter to the editor published on Friday, February 26:

Bipartisanship in education reform? Not so fast. Given languishing health-care reform, jobs-bill wrangling and the filibuster shadow cast on Congress, it's easy to mistakenly consider bipartisanship the prize instead of the process.

Public education has be susceptible to this kind of thinking. No Child Left Behind (NCLB), with its testing mandates and punitive policies bemoaned today, was passed with healthy bipartisan support in 2002. Public education is trick and deceptively hard. Man policy ideas sound good: more pay for good teachers, more school choice, more money. With Republicans not wanting to be labeled "obstructionists" and Democrats wanting to get something done, it's easy to imagine public education becoming a political olive branch.

Lawmakers must resist this temptation in the NCLB rewrite. Let's use the reauthorization of NCLB to transform a profoundly dysfunctional system and to look at bipartisanship as a process and not just prize. Our children deserve more.

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