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The controversial education law known as No Child Left Behind is up for reauthorization, and amid the nuances under debate one question stands out: Will pressures from the left and right force the federal government to abandon its annual, statewide testing requirements?

When enacted into law in 2002, NCLB had widespread, bipartisan backing including support from President George W. Bush and Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy . Nonetheless, it had numerous creaky provisions, not least of which were the testing provisions that held schools accountable for student achievement.

As we celebrate the anniversary of Martin Luther King's birth, we should ask why so many of the problems against which he struggled — segregation, poverty, persistent racial gaps in education and income — remain so much a part of American life.

Few remember that Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned of this possibility. His report “The Negro Family: A Case for National Action,” released 50 years ago, lamented the rising tide of single parenthood in the black community.

Money for schools has again become a campaign issue. In the Florida governor's race, Charlie Crist says that the "first thing [Gov. Rick Scott ] does when he comes in . . . is cut education by $1.3 billion." To which Gov. Scott replies, "The $18 billion in funding for K-12 education funding is the highest in Florida history and includes a record $10.6 billion in state funds." Pennsylvania's Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tom Wolf accuses Republican Gov. Tom Corbett of cutting the state's school budget by $1 billion, to which Gov. Corbett replies that spending has actually risen.

As your editor made clear in this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast and as this publication consistently points out, there are no corners of American public education that are cordons solitaire from the education crisis.

There are two big problems with the hysteria from right-wing critics and teachers’ unions over Common Core: lack of easily available alternatives with comparable rigor to Common Core standards, and timing. In more than 40 states, Common Core is already happening, although the implementation issues are not trivial.

Almost exactly one year ago to the day, I brought your attention to a report from America Achieves that showed our nation’s lackluster K-12 education results are by no means just a matter of poverty.

Don’t blame poor kids for U.S. students’ mediocre performance on international math exams, write researchers in Education Next. When the children of college-educated parents are compared, U.S. students do even worse than our international competitors.

Paul Peterson, a Harvard University professor, took a similar view. "Our younger population should be doing better than our older population," he said. "The older population is better educated. And the younger population is entering the workforce."