Washington (CNN)Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for an overhaul of President George W. Bush's signature No Child Left Behind Act on Monday morning, setting up yet another potential fight between the White House and the new Republican-dominated Congress.
Secretary Duncan unveils plan to revamp No Child Left Behind
Duncan delivered his remarks in the library of Seaton Elementary School in Washington, D.C. to a group of politicians, civil rights leaders, educators and members of the media. Conspicuously absent from the room were any children, as the D.C. Public Schools were under a two hour delay due to winter weather.
"I believe we can work together, Republicans and Democrats, move beyond the out-of-date and tired and prescriptive No Child Left Behind Law," Duncan said. He stressed his priority of improving access to preschool education, streamlining standardized testing, and giving more resources to teachers and principals, among other reforms.
However, one key component of No Child Left Behind, annual testing in reading and math, would remain in place under the new plan.
While Duncan said he wanted the bill to be bipartisan, he also said that he was "deeply concerned about where some Republicans may be headed" on the issue, citing "fundamental differences" with congressional Republicans about the importance of improving access to education for all young Americans.
In the coming weeks, Duncan will need to work closely with Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Education Committee and is himself a former Education Secretary. Alexander is expected to begin hearings on testing as soon as next week. When asked whether Congress could have a bipartisan bill on the floor by February or March, Duncan replied "we'll see."
Debates about the federal government's role in education will likely play a major role in next year's race for the presidency, especially in the GOP primary. Many conservatives are strongly opposed to the Common Core education standards, and columnist George Will recently wrote that Jeb Bush's support for Common Core make him unqualified to serve as president.