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The bill cleared the committee on a party-line vote over fierce objections from Democrats, who said it could lead to civil rights violations of the most vulnerable students.

That type of bitter back-and-forth is the backdrop for education reform, but it was largely absent in 2001 when President George W. Bush joined with liberal titans including the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to pass NCLB. Back then, education was center stage in the national conversation, and leaders were looking for compromise. Today, however, it’s largely on the back burner, said Jeanne Allen, founder and president of the Center for Education Reform, a D.C.-based advocacy group.

“The issue of the day has been the economy,” she told The Washington Times on Monday. “The reason Congress was able to do this 11 years ago is because [education] was the central issue we were focused on … if you don’t have the attention of leaders, how can you go about a wholesale revision?”