The Republican Party doesn't get enough credit for the strategic brilliance of NCLB. You know you've lost strategically when every option at your disposal is a bad one; conversely, if every move is a good one, you won big.
The Republicans can join hands with Obama and pass a bipartisan bill with Obama, since he's already more or less embraced their agenda. But he's done that in the past on other subjects, at least at a micro level, and the Republicans have had no qualms about vilifying aspects of health care reform and other Democrat-backed measures that originated as conservative ideas just a few years earlier.
But what would the Republicans lose by walking away from federal intervention in school accountability? Just walk away from it in rural and suburban schools and make urban education the Democrat's problem. Look: the Republican Party does not give a shit about cities anyhow. That's why, relatively speaking, the Bush area was not as hard on urban education as the first two years of Obama.
Also, as important as it is to follow the money, we're not talking about defense contracting here, we're not even talking about the prison industry. To the extent that there's big money to be made in education, it will go to people like Pearson, regardless of who's actually managing schools. And this entire edifice hasn't been created to produce mid-six figure incomes for people like Geoffrey Canada, Eva Moscowitz and Wendy Kopp. That's nothing in the big picture, and they are all probably voting Democrat anyhow.
So picture this: Republicans start channeling Diane Ravitch, reject the Common Core as a pinko plot, push hard for loosening accountability in the schools their constituents attend, and let the Democrats fight to continue screwing over their own urban base, letting the Democrats completely own an urban reform strategy doomed to hang around its neck like an albatross and split the Democratic Party indefinitely.
And it is not like the Republicans would have to stop beating up on the teacher's union.