The president may be hard-pressed to veto even a very conservative bill, though the administration has signaled in the past it will take a hard line when it comes to preserving annual tests and other provisions that focus on equal access to education in NCLB. The Obama administration ushered in what has been labeled a dismantling of the law by giving states huge leeway on some of its key provisions, but the so-called waiver policy is unpopular in the states in no small part because it helped encourage the proliferation of the Common Core standards.
Lobbyists swarmed Capitol Hill in December to sway lawmakers’ positions in chaotic education debates over how often to test students and what role — if any — school vouchers should have in the law. These debates are set to erupt in January, though some groups have put themselves ahead of the curve: The National Education Association, the country’s largest teacher’s union, has been pushing to roll back testing requirements for years and is seizing on recent anti-testing sentiment in the states to make a fresh case for getting rid of annual tests on Capitol Hill.
Part of the difficulty in rewriting the law is that the most hated parts of the bill are deeply intertwined with its heralded civil rights provisions: The testing requirements, for example, allowed the government for the first time to spotlight the achievement gaps between white students with higher-income families and their peers when those test results were broken down by race and socioeconomic status. NCLB put a public spotlight on schools and districts that were falling flat when it comes to helping disadvantaged students — and pressed them to improve when no one else was.