[caption id="attachment_117136" align="alignleft" width="215"] Lawmakers from both parties may be more timid next term about embracing Common Core.[/caption]

Loose ends and thorny partisan issues that have long dogged attempts to move forward on education await the next Congress as President Barack Obama's second term begins.

Soaring campaign-year aspirations to close the achievement gap and boost college graduation rates to the highest in the world may have to fall back to earth — at least temporarily — as lawmakers and Obama tackle a number of gritty funding-related issues that just can't wait.

First up...

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