Uh Oh – Fractures developing in the Right-Wing Coalition against Public Education

In today’s Wall Street Journal, voucher warrior Clint Bolick takes aim at Bush Administration Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. It seems Bolick doesn’t think the No Child Left Behind Act is destroying public schools fast enough and Spellings is to blame. Bolick is upset that not enough parents have yanked their children out of LA public schools.

The question is whether Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings–whose administration has made NCLB the centerpiece of its education agenda–will do anything about it. She has the power to withhold federal funds from districts that fail to comply with NCLB, and has threatened to do just that. Rhetoric, so far, has exceeded action.

Incredulous that parents would actually prefer to keep their children in public schools, Bolick laments that “as of yet private school choice is not an option under NCLB.” Bolick reminds us that right-wingers in Congress have proposed a national voucher bill, but until then, he says, the battle against public schools must be led by Secretary Spellings.

In response, Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and John Ensign and Reps. Buck McKeon and Sam Johnson have proposed adding private options under NCLB for children in chronically failing schools. But for now, the only hope for these kids is for Secretary Spellings to hold the districts’ feet to the fire.

For her part Spellings, thinks NCLB is a nearly perfect law, but Bolick is not appeased. Pleading with her to withhold funding from LA public schools, Bolick issues a final warning to Spellings.

Will she or won’t she? Margaret Spellings’s actions in the coming days will determine far more than the Bush administration’s education legacy.