House Approves ESEA Legislation, But Future of Reauthorization Still Uncertain

Following two days of debate, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Student Success Act, H.R. 5, by a vote of 221 to 207. The July 19 vote was the first in Congress since 2001 to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

NAESP opposed the Student Success Act. It does not support the principalship or a well-rounded education for students, and it continues an overreliance on standardized tests. It also locks in federal budget cuts from sequestration. While Congress has been trying to reauthorize ESEA since 2007, the administration has threatened to veto the Student Success Act, as it’s currently written.

No Democrats supported the bill and twelve Republicans opposed it, including Reps. Justin Amash (MI); Chris Gibson (NY); Louie Gomert (TX); Sam Graves (MO); Michael Grimm (NY); Walter Jones (NC); David Joyce (OH); Frank LoBiondo (NJ); Thomas Massie (KY); Tom Reed (NY); Dave Reichert (WA); and Jon Runyan (NJ). See how your members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted here: ROLL CALL 373.

Leading up to the House floor activity, Republicans counted votes carefully. Democrats were not expected to support any part of the legislation, and the most conservative Republicans had voiced concerns that the bill still allowed too much federal intrusion into local control. However, Republicans generally praised the bill for limiting the federal footprint and returning decision-making about how to spend federal funding to states and local school districts. Democrats were adamant in their opposition, criticizing the bill’s reduced and block-granted funding, and its lack of assurance that Title I funding be spent to improve educational opportunities for low-income and other vulnerable populations. 

Of the 26 amendments to the bill, 19 amendments passed, two failed, and five were withdrawn. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) offered an amendment that passed by voice vote, which would allow states to ignore the current Title I allocation formulas. Currently, these formulas direct more funds to districts with the largest numbers and highest concentrations of children in poverty. The amendment, however, would require local education agencies to distribute Title I funds to any school that has any (even one) poor child, overriding the current Title I allocation stipulations. NAESP opposed this amendment, since it would force some of the neediest schools to operate with even fewer resources.

To learn more about NAESP’s position on the bill, read the joint NAESP and NASSP response letter to H.R. 5. Also see:

Meanwhile, the Senate Education Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and the top Republican on that committee, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), have both stated they would like Harkin’s committee-passed legislation to move to the Senate floor. The outlook on a full reauthorization of ESEA will remain uncertain if the Senate is not able to pass a bill and move to a conference committee with the House.

Amendments to the Student Success Act debated and voted on by the House (in order of consideration and as described by the sponsor):

Kline (R-MN), Rokita (R-IN) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No. 1 (Managers Amendment) – Clarifies that a state opting not to receive funds for a program under the Act shall not be required to carry out any of the requirements of such program and that states and school districts can support civics education efforts, and makes other technical improvements.

Young (R-AK), Gabbard (D-HI), Hanabusa (D-HI), McCollum (D-MN) Adopted 263-161– Amendment No. 2 – Restores, and make policy improvements to, educational support programs for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students which are currently authorized under Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and would be diminished by HR 5, the Student Success Act. ROLL CALL 367

Luetkemeyer (R-MO) Adopted 241-182 – Amendment No 4 – Expresses the sense of the Congress that States and local education agencies should maintain the rights and responsibilities of determining curriculum and assessments for elementary and secondary education. ROLL CALL 368

Jackson Lee (D-TX) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No. 5 – States that if funding for awards to states is not sufficient then funding will be targeted to schools serving neglected, delinquent, migrant students, English learners, at-risk-students, and Native Americans, to increase academic achievements of such students.

Bentivolio, (R-MI) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No. 6 – Requires State educational agencies to consult with private sector employers and entrepreneurs as part of its education plan. It also requires the Secretary to have representatives from private sector employers appointed to the peer-review process by reducing practitioners from 75 percent to 65 percent.

Reed (R-NY), McKinley (R-WV), Owens (D-NY) Adopted by Voice Vote – Amendment No. 8 – Clarifies that LEA’s and SEA’s are able to use multiple measures when identifying academic performance measurements instead of the current one-size-fits-all testing assessments.

Benishek (R-MI) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No. 9 Encourages states to include the number of students attaining career and technical education proficiencies enrolled in public secondary schools, in its annual State report card. This information is already required to be collected by the Perkins Act, and would simply streamline access to information to the public.

Heck (R-NV) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No. 10 – Provides LEAs with the option of entering into partnerships or contracts with other entities to implement programs that serve youth in, or transitioning out of, institutions and correctional facilities, and youth at-risk of dropping out of school. This would provide LEAs with the option to partner with organizations that have the existing experience and resources to enhance the effectiveness of services provided by school districts to vulnerable populations through the Neglected/Delinquent program in an integrated fashion.

Meehan (R-PA), Schock (R-IL) Adopted 239-187– Amendment No. 11 – Ensures that greater authority and governance are restored to local educational agencies as delegated by their States. It also ensures that the Secretary of Education does not impose any additional requirements or burdens on local educational agencies unless explicitly authorized by federal law. ROLL CALL 369

Scalise (R-LA), Bishop (R-UT) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No. 12 – States that under Title II in H.R. 5, there would be no federal mandate for States to conduct teacher evaluations.

Moore (D-WI), Wilson (D-FL) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No 13 – Delays implementation of new Title II formula until the Secretary of Education determines that the implementation will not reduce funding for schools serving high percentages of students in poverty.

Bishop (R-UT) Adopted by Voice Vote – Amendment No. 14 – Eliminates Subsection C of Section 2111, which allows grant money to bypass states and go directly from the Department of Education to local districts.

Brooks (R-IN), Polis (D-CO) Adopted by Voice Vote – Amendment No. 16 – Clarifies that federal funds may be used for computer science education.

Polis (D-CO), Petri (R-WI) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No. 17 – Allows charter schools to use grant funds for teacher preparation, professional development, and improving school conditions; ensures that charter schools expand outreach to low-income and underserved populations.

Velázquez (D-NY) Adopted by Voice Vote – Amendment No. 18 – Requires that applicants consider how to target their services to low-income students and parents, including low-income students and parents who are not proficient in English.

Broun (R-GA) Adopted by Voice Vote – Amendment No. 21 – Requires the Secretary of Education to include in their report to Congress the average salary of employees who were determined to be associated with eliminated or consolidated programs or projects by the underlying legislation and a report on the average salaries of the employees of the Department according to their job function.

Culberson (R-TX) Adopted 227 to 196 – Amendment No. 22 – Restoration of State sovereignty over public education and parental rights over the education of their children and dedication of savings to deficit reduction. ROLL CALL Vote 370

Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Meehan (R-PA) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No. 23 - Provides a funding condition for state or local educational agency to be eligible for funds, agency personnel cannot facilitate the transfer of an employee if they know, or have probable cause to believe, that the employee has engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor. Agencies must also require employees be subjected to background checks in compliance with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

Jackson Lee (D-TX) Failed 186-237 – Amendment No. 24 – Creates a report containing recommendations regarding the advisability of authorizing a state education authority to close a school district over the opposition of a locally elected school board, and regarding best practices governing the exercise of authority by a state education agency in monitoring, supervising and controlling under-performing school districts with particular emphasis on rural and underserved school districts. ROLL CALL 371

Cantor (R-VA), Bishop (R-UT) Adopted by Voice Vote– Amendment No. 25 - Allows Title I funds to follow students to other public schools or charter schools, upon the state opting to allow it.

Miller, George (D-CA) Failed 193-233– Amendment No. 26 – (Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute) - Reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to maintain the civil rights and equity focus of the law and to ensure all students have access to an education that prepares them for college and the workforce. Supports all students, and in particular those who are historically disadvantaged, through access to high quality state-developed standards, a meaningful but flexible accountability and school improvement system, improved and targeted professional development and working conditions for teachers and school leaders, additional learning time and after-school programs, and dedicated supports for wrap-around services for students and a well-rounded education. ROLL CALL 372

Kuster (D-NH) Failed 196-231 Motion to recommit H.R. 5 – The instructions contained in the motion seek to require the bill to be reported back to the House with an amendment to prevent lowering standards for children with disabilities, including autistic children. It establishes safety standards for the use of seclusion and restraint in schools so children are not physically and mentally harmed. It also establishes standards for protecting student athletes from concussions. Lastly, it provides for criminal background checks of school and contractor employees who have contact with children. Subsequently, the reservation of a point of order was withdrawn. ROLL CALL 373

Final Passage of H.R. 5 – Student Success Act Adopted 221-207 ROLL CALL 373