September 10, 2007

Spellings, Post, & Times: All on the Same Page

Though both papers missed Chairman Miller’s September 5th deadline for submitting comments, both the editorial pages of the Washington Post and New York Times have taken the measure of Miller’s NCLB bill and, channeling Secretary Spellings, and give it a unanimous thumbs down.

Each editorial takes the same tack. Citing several “good ideas” (Times) and “much that is admirable in the draft” (Post), each then hammers Miller’s bill, particularly what they perceive as backsliding on accountability.

“His proposed changes in the law’s crucial accountability provisions, put forth in a draft version of the House bill, may need to be recast to prevent states from backing away from the central mission of the law,” sniffs the Times, while the Post asserts “Mr. Miller would open the door to even larger end runs around accountability.”

It’s bizarre to see in print the two papers’ defense of NCLB’s existing accountability system that makes no distinction between chronically/ across-the-board low-performing schools and those that miss AYP by one point/student, and to decry Miller’s attempts to craft a more sophisticated and nuanced accountability formula.

The editorials do serve the purpose of putting everyone on notice about the competing, perhaps irreconcilable, demands Miller (and Kennedy) is under: to satisfy the request of education constituencies to refine the accountability system on the one hand, and to preserve the spirit of NCLB’s current formula on the other (everyone else).