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Senate NCLB rewrite gets lots of praise, some yawns, a few boos

Craig Clough | July 17, 2015

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Senator Elizabeth Warren NCLB

Senator Elizabeth Warren

The Senate passed a rewrite of the expired No Child Left Behind law yesterday with broad, bipartisan support.

The George W. Bush-era law is controversial due to the high-stakes standardizing testing it ushered in, and the Senate’s bill would strip away much of the federal government’s test-and-punish powers.

The bipartisan support it received is in contrast to a rival House bill that passed last week without a single Democrat voting in favor of it. The two bills now set up “a showdown between the two chambers, and leaves the fate of a final measure in doubt,” the New York Times reported.

Many leading Republicans and Democrats have voiced support for the Senate’s version, although the White House had a lukewarm reaction, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, a prominent national figure in the Democratic party, was one of three Democrats to vote against it.

Here is a sampling of reaction to the Senate action from political and education leaders:

  • “This bill still falls short of truly giving every child a fair shot at success by failing to ensure that parents and children can count on local leaders to take action when students are struggling to learn.”— Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The Hill
  • “Every student in America will be better off under this legislation than the generation of students wronged by No Child Left Untested. This bill reflects a paradigm shift away from the one-size-fits-all assessments that educators know hurt students, diminish learning, narrow the curriculum and that they fought to change.” — NEA President Lilly Eskelsen-García. NEA Today
  • “I cannot in good conscience support a bill that falls short of investing in the potential and promise of all of our children, especially New Jersey’s most vulnerable students.” Senator Corey Booker, one of three Democrats to vote against the bill. Politico

  • “[The rewrite] eliminates basic, fundamental safeguards to ensure that federal dollars are actually used to improve both schools and educational outcomes for those students who are often ignored.” — Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of three Democrats to vote against the bill. WBUR
  • “It sends a powerful message that equity really matters and that schooling must be more about teaching and learning than testing and measuring. More must be done to address the needs of historically disadvantaged children, but this bill offers a significant piece of the puzzle.” — AFT President Randi Weingarten. Washington Times
  • “If you think the federal government should make sure that we’re not letting kids fall in the cracks, if you think the federal government should make sure there is transparency, if you think that the federal funds ought to continue to flow to support low income children, then the Senate bill does all of those thing.”Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute. Mother Jones
  • “The truth is that the reforms enacted under NCLB clearly helped all students improve their learning. White children improved, but disadvantaged children improved even more in significant degrees. And we saw some narrowing in the achievement gap. You’d think this would be important and that we would build on it.” — Sandy Kress, one of the architects of NCLB and a longtime advocate of the federal role in education. NPR
  • “Though not perfect, this Senate bill reflects positive progress toward fixing the punitive accountability standards under the No Child Left Behind Act. It also moves our national education system toward a structure that provides more control for states and local school districts, while preserving reasonable federal accountability parameters with increased transparency.” — LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines. LA School Report
  • “The reauthorization of ESEA is an opportunity to acknowledge what researchers and scientists have been stressing for some time now: education begins at birth. Better connection between early learning and K-12 education is a positive step in building a strong pipeline for our nation’s children” — First Five Years Fund Executive Director Kris Perry.
  • “Most important to me is that this bill preserves the stream of funding that is necessary to protect the after-school programs because, to be quite honest, we have had a lot of issues with people trying to grab those funds and use them for something else. And let me tell you why we cannot do that. We now serve more than 1.6 million children of working families every year through this after-school program. That’s progress. Think about 1.6 million children. Think about all of their parents and the relief it brings to them to know they have their children in a quality after-school program.” Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), speaking on the Senate floor. YouTube. 


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