Politico‘s Ben Smith notes an unlikely alliance between Tea Partiers and teachers unions trying to reform No Child Left Behind in order to cede some authority over education standards back to the states. Tea Party congressman, such as Rand Paul, believe that the federal government shouldn’t be involved in setting standards for teachers, while the AFT and other unions don’t want teachers to face tougher standards or accountability measures.
The difference, of course, is that Rand Paul not only wants NCLB repealed, he also wants the Department of Education abolished. The AFT wants the federal handouts to keep coming, but with no strings attached.
NCLB, which was one of George W. Bush’s signature projects, might be a good line of demarcation between regular Republicans and so-called constitutional conservatives. There are good reasons to think, as Bush did and, for instance, Mitt Romney does, that it’s possible for the federal government to impose market-style reforms on education throughout the country that would benefit students and taxpayers alike. It’s just not easy to square with federalism.
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