Speaker of the House John Boehner, one of the primary architects of the No Child Left Behind law, will resign from his position and give up his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of October.
Boehner (R-OH) was elected House Speaker in 2010 and was chairman of the House Education and the Workforce committee when Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. He and former Rep. George Miller (D-CA) played a key roles in shepherding NCLB through the legislative process.
Boehner specifically beat back GOP suggestions that it gave too much influence to the Education Dept. At the time, NCLB was considered a shining domestic policy victory for then President George W. Bush (R). But, Boehner fell short of his original objective to include a voucher program in the NCLB bill.
The reforms have since fallen into disfavor for unrealistic classroom goals and its impractical testing procedures. Plus, it never delivered the student achievements it promised.
Boehner this year has supported the Student Success Act, a rewrite of NCLB. And he’s backed the voucher program in the District of Columbia that’s frequently at the center of political fights in Congress.
Boehner’s departure makes passing an NCLB rewrite during this Congress highly unlikely. The bill is not favored by House conservatives, who in reality would like to see all federal influenceon K-12 education brought to an end. Democrats question the funding levels in the proposed reauthorization as too low. House Democrats believe they can bet a better deal with a Continuing resolution, which would generally provide level funding for most DoEd programs, over the draconian cuts offered in the rewrite.
“The first job of any speaker is to protect this institution that we all love. It was my plan to only serve as speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican conference and the House,” Boehner said. “It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the speakership and my seat in Congress on Oct. 30.”
However, Boehner said his planned departure will not result in a government shutdown. The Senate is expected to pass a continuing resolution next week.
Was He Pushed?
Did Boehner leave voluntarily or was he pushed? The backroom opinion mill that is a cottage industry in Washington D.C. is split. Boehner isn’t saying and it’s likely he could have survived another battle within his caucus. He survived after he lost a favored lieutenant Eric Cantor (R-VA), who failed in a reelection against a political neophyte. On the other hand, he didn’t like his reformed leadership team, telling them he was quitting as they walked up to the podium for the announcement. Health could also be a factor. He smokes like a chimney, although President Obama has been known to sneak a cigarette occasionally outside the White House.