- A reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is said to be high on the list of priorities for Congress — which must also confront a looming deadline on a federal spending bill— as lawmakers return from a summer recess.
- Prior to the break, the House and Senate passed conflicting rewrites of the bill, previously reauthorized as No Child Left Behind over a decade ago, but Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who heads the chamber's education committee, believes a compromise will be reached by winter.
- Still, before those negotiations continue, lawmakers must address the aforementioned spending bill and avert a government shutdown, which would carry a heavy cost for federal education programs like Head Start and Impact Aid.
Even if a government shutdown is averted via proposed bills currently on the table, those proposals would do away with education programs like School Improvement Grants, Preschool Development Grants, Investing in Innovation, and the Teacher Incentive Fund. Lawmakers will have just 10 days to reach a deal.
As for the ESEA/NCLB rewrites, they'll need to reconcile critical differences between the House's Republican-backed Student Success Act and the Senate's bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act, the latter of which is more likely to be signed by President Barack Obama. For at least one lawmaker, striking a deal may be especially important: Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chair of the House education committee, announced last week that he doesn't plan to seek re-election in 2016, so any deal reached is likely to become the jewel of his legislative legacy.