NCLB/Spellings Impact on Higher Ed Reauthorization

Following up on yesterday's post on the NYT higher ed story, it occurs to me today that the HEA reauthorization in re accountability is going to be greatly affected by the "spectre" of NCLB and the last year of accountability rollbacks from Secretary Spellings, as well as Congressional politics and the higher ed lobby.

To me, that means a high likelihood of lots of talk but little real action when it comes to bringing accountability to higher ed -- an idea that is still in its (prolonged) infancy.


It seems to me that the Commission and the Secretary are going in different directions these days, with the Commission interested in standards and accountability and the Secretary...not so much. As I've detailed before, her year in office has been marked by a dramatic reversal on many of NCLB's key requirements. This year's growth model pilots promise more of the same.

It's not like standards and accountability were getting any great press before the NCLB rollback, but at least the law wasn't effectively being rewritten year by year the way things have been lately.

It's also worth pointing out that what the Commission wants and recommends and what Congress ends up doing are likely to be very different things. Commissions always suffer once their reports are done and politics take over.

Lat but not least, it's worth remembering (as I do vividly) that the higher education lobby is one of the more powerful and persuasive lobbies in education (though those Head Start folks could give them a run for their money). They know how to get things done (think FIPSE earmarks). They have big guns to bring in and threaten lawmakers with ruining higher education. And they have fought off previous efforts at accountability before.


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