According to Mike Petrilli at the Education Gadfly the ESEA bill, authored by Senate education committee chairman Tom Harkin and ranking member Mike Enzi, is "a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas that should alarm folks on the right and the left".
Petrilli points out that the bill has provoked criticism from both sides of the tracks – the "progressives" on one side and the "Reform Realists" on the other. Both are coming from different philosophies, but both meeting at a casual agreement that this bill is not what the country needs, says Petrilli.
Petrilli believes that while laudable, the bill is more utopian than anything the "Great Society dreamers" proposed.
"While the legislation deserves credit for handing many accountability decisions back to the states, it would launch a whole new series of federal interventions in the nation's worst high schools."
In the past, one of No Child Left Behind's most controversial provisions is the requirement that teachers earn designation as "highly qualified."
"Not only did this get the feds into the position of micromanaging teacher qualifications, it also did so in a clumsy way, focusing on paper credentials."
The Administration's waiver package moves to a policy of "non-enforcement" around this provision, which indicates that Obama recognizes that it's time for this to be shelved.
However, Harkin's proposal keeps the "highly qualified" rules in place for newly hired teachers, and not only that, it adds an additional requirement that states develop teacher and principal evaluation system. Rather than eliminating or consolidating wasteful programs, it adds new ones, he says.
Petrilli believes this is another chance for a federal mandate to mess up a perfectly good idea.
"As far as I can tell, few major programs are put on the chopping block, and several more are created, including a new initiatives for high schools, STEM, literacy, and "safe and healthy schools." As the country is running a historic deficit, this is the best we can do?"
Petrilli believes the bill should be scrapped and urges conservatives to back the proposal put forward by Senators Alexander, Burr, and others, instead.