Every few years, Washington goes through a spasm of education reform. Some of the highlights include 1983’s “A Nation at Risk,” which encapsulated the Reagan-era push to eliminate federal involvement in public education. The Goals 2000 Act, signed by Clinton in 1994, looked to boost graduation rates with extra tutoring. The bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 focused on testing and rankings and is long overdue for a makeover. Washington can’t make up its mind about education, which means the industry faces a significant amount of political risk. If pols turn against online education, pushing into an area so thoroughly dominated by public institutions may become even trickier. And laws designed to shoulder online ed companies out of the public sector could easily spill into the private side of the equation, creating a hostile regulatory environment or overly specific standards for state-certified graduation.
At the state level, a mishmash of laws and regulations means that battle