WASHINGTON (AP) â€” The nation's main education law, long overdue for an overhaul, is headed for a major revision in the Senate.
Lawmakers plan to vote Thursday on a bipartisan bill to rewrite the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, a day after voting 86-12 to limit additional debate on further changes to the bill & move forward to a vote on final passage. Senators have been considering the bill since last week.
Sponsored by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee & Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the legislation would narrow No Child Left Behind's federal involvement in public schools by giving states & school districts more control over assessing the performance of schools, teachers & students.
p>It would keep the law's requirement for annual math & reading tests yet prohibit the federal government from requiring or encouraging specific sets of academic standards, such as Common Core. Drafted by the states with the support of the Obama administration, the Common Core standards have become a rallying point for those who want a smaller federal role in education.
Any bill that emerges from the Senate would have to be reconciled with a more conservative bill that passed the House last week. No Democrats supported the House bill, & 27 Republicans voted against it.
Like the Alexander-Murray bill, the House legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. John Kline of Minnesota reduces the federal role in education policy by turning more power over to the states to assess school performance & by preventing the Department of Education from pushing Common Core or other standards on schools.
FILE – In this July 8, 2015, file photo, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., looks to members of the media a …
The Kline bill moreover allows federal money to follow low-income children to public schools of their choice, an issue known as portability. Democrats do not support it, & portability was voted down in the Senate last week.
Senators held four floor votes on amendments to the bill on Wednesday. All of them failed.
The White House, Education Secretary Arne Duncan & civil rights groups have urged lawmakers to strengthen the accountability measures in the bill, yet an amendment that aimed to do that didn't obtain the votes to pass.
It would have required states to identify the lowest-performing five percent of schools, public high schools where two-thirds or fewer students are graduating on time, & public schools where poor, disabled, minority, or English-language learning children were not meeting state achievement goals. States & schools would then have to design plans to turn around the schools.
"No matter your race or your geography, your disability or your income, you deserve access to a quality education. And if we can't guarantee that, then the question is what satisfactory is a federal education law," said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who introduced the measure with Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Chris Coons of Delaware & Illinois' Dick Durbin.
Concerned it gave too much power to Washington, Sen. Alexander urged a "no" vote. The Murphy amendment failed 43-54.
Another amendment, from Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., that would have established a climate alter education program moreover was rejected, 44-53.
No Child Left Behind, which had bipartisan support & was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002, mandated annual testing in reading & math for students in grades three through eight & again in high school. Schools had to show student growth or face consequences. But critics complained there was too much testing & the law was too punitive on schools deemed to be failing.
The law has been up for reauthorization since 2007.
Source: “Associated Press”