Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the presumptive chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee next year, repeatedly uses the phrase "local control" when talking about how he would like to see education policy evolve. He wants states and school superintendents to make their own decisions and spend less time worrying about how to tweak their education programs to get more federal dollars.
Kline's desire for local control isn't intended to be a roadblock thrown up to stop lawmakers from hammering out a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Kline shares with President Obama the notion that Republicans and Democrats can come to agreement on an overhaul of the law. But in order to make the deal work, the feds will need to back off.
With the 2014 deadline for 100 percent state proficiency looming, educators are looking for relief, and the Democrats are in a position to give it to them. At the same time, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has a range of programs like Race to the Top grants that he would like to continue. Could this be the beginning of a deal? Or are local-control Republicans and education activists like Duncan too far apart to come to a grand bargain? Is the political climate ripe for a deal on education? What type of leadership would be needed from the White House and among Democrats to forge a compromise?