The Next Four Years

By Glenn Cook

Michael Usdan has followed education policy over four-plus decades as a teacher, school board member, state commissioner of higher education, and president of a think tank. But four years ago, he admits, he didn't foresee the educational firestorm that became No Child Left Behind.

"I don't think a Democratic administration would have ever been able to enact such legislation because there would have been an enormous backlash," says Usdan, now a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Educational Leadership. "But the federal politics of education were inverted almost immediately overnight."

President Bush's education centerpiece, NCLB was hailed as a bipartisan benchmark when it was signed into law three years ago. The legislation has resulted in the greatest level of federal involvement in education in history, and its implementation has prompted questions about testing, accountability, funding, and the future of local school control.

As Bush takes office for his second term, with a Republican-controlled Congress and a new education secretary in place, ASBJ decided to conduct a virtual roundtable on what the next four years might hold for education. Managing Editor Glenn Cook posed questions to seven respected education observers -- with views representing the political and ideological spectrum -- who responded in writing.

In addition to Usdan, the participants were:

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