On June 4, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced a comprehensive bill to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. The legislation Strengthening America's Schools Act (summary here), will be debated in the Senate HELP Committee on Tuesday, June 11. The bill was introduced without the support of Republicans on the HELP Committee, who have introduced an “alternative” version of the legislation, Every Child Ready for College and Career Act (a summary of this bill will be published soon).
The bills take dramatically different approaches to the reauthorization of ESEA and reflect the differences that continue to divide the committees. The Democratic version favors a trajectory similar to the waiver packages, or the “ESEA flexibility” awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to 37 states, in which the Secretary has authority to approve state and local systems on accountability, assessment and educator evaluations. The Republican version significantly reduces federal authority and involvement in education, and returns full oversight of accountability, assessment, and other programs to states and local districts. The Republican bill is expected to be voted down by the Democratic majority.
The House Education and the Workforce Chairman, John Kline (R-MN),has also introduced the Student Success Act to reauthorize ESEA, but without the support of House Democrats. A committee mark-up is currently scheduled on June 19, and the process is expected to be similarly partisan with Democrats likely to introduce a separate version of the bill’s reauthorization.
NAESP will be keeping members up-to-date on its advocacy pages with bill summaries and reports on committee proceedings. Continue reading NAESP’s blog for updated information on the ESEA reauthorization process and follow @NAESP on twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.