There is indeed a compelling national interest in education. The federal government has a role to play. Just as the Brown v. Board of Education decision moved to end unequal education because of race, the federal government can now help ensure that states provide a quality education to every student.
I've said before, I agree with this. States have too often been resistant to change when change was needed. The federal government does have a role to play in education. This has never been my beef with NCLB; I do not disagree with the goals, but with the means. Forgive the pun, but the feds have put the mean in means. It's mean to set up schools to fail, and if you don't believe that that's what they've done, read the next post: 90% of Florida schools will fail this year if the Dept. of Education won't relent on the rigid accountability of NCLB. But Spellings indicates she will be flexible:
No Child Left Behind is the law of the land. My goal as secretary of education is to help states continue to implement it, and to stabilize and embed this positive change. I understand some aspects of the law have been more difficult to implement than others, which is why I have signaled a willingness to work with states to make it fit their unique local needs. That's why each and every state has developed its own accountability plan: No two states are alike, and neither are their plans.
This "willingness to work with states" has yielded very little so far. She's been harping on this message of flexibility ever since she took over, but compromises on teacher qualifications in North Dakota and the number of schools that "need improvement" in California are the only ones that have been struck thus far. Connecticut was denied. And Minnesota, Virginia, Utah, Texas, and now Florida are waiting to hear their fate.
Clearly, NCLB's fate depends on how reasonable the feds will be. If Spellings digs in, NCLB won't make it past reauthorization next year, much less to high schools.