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Budget: A Funding Cliff -- For NCLB

Money_1I'm not particularly worried about the fiscal cliff, which makes for great post-election theater but seems unlikely to happen in any form that would be disastrous. But I *am* worried about the overall federal education budget in the next cycle, and one big reason is the NCLB waiver scheme.  

Federal funding for K-12 education went up a bunch during the NCLB era, a fact that many seem not to know or conveniently forget.  And a new reauthorization of any law, including education, usually generates funding increases since lawmakers want to see their votes and efforts succeed.  

But we don't have an NCLB reauthorization to spring off of, thanks to the whiners at the Chiefs and the lazybones at the USDE (and CAP?) who got us into this waiver mess.  And it seems unlikely to me that lawmakers are going to manage much enthusiasm for a program that (a) isn't new and (b) essentially operates outside their control. 

So don't worry about the fiscal cliff that everyone's talking about now.  Worry about the fiscal cliff that NCLB could be about to fall off of in February and March.  

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.