ESEA Reauthorization Likely to Stall

The House of Representatives passed with a 221-207 vote the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as No Child Left Behind. No Democrats voted in favor of the Student Success Act, H.R. 5.

The bill would do away with over 70 programs and lock in school funding at sequestration levels. Proponents champion the bill for keeping spending low. Total spending on education would be less than the Title I spending in 2007. Others commend the expansion and replication of charter schools and repealing the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirement. The bill would also limit the Department of Education by reducing its workforce and placing certain restrictions on the Secretary of Education, such as “prohibiting the Secretary from imposing conditions, including conditions involving Common Core and other state standards and assessments; preventing the Secretary from creating additional burdens on states and school districts through the regulatory process; prohibiting the Secretary from demanding changes to state standards and coercing states to enter into partnership with other states; and outlining specific procedures the Secretary must follow when issuing federal regulations and conducting the peer review process.”

Critics of H.R. 5 argue that the bill would ultimately widen achievement gaps by neglecting underrepresented students, such as low income, ethnic minority, and ELL students. President of the NEA, Dennis van Roekel lamented: “While H.R. 5 contains some positive provisions, as a whole it erodes the historical federal role in public education — to be an enforcer of equity of opportunities, tools, and resources so that we can level the playing field. Yet this House bill walks away from creating equity in education — and at a time when poor and disadvantaged students and their families need it the most.”

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement that H.R. 5 “marks a retreat from high standards for all students and would virtually eliminate accountability for the learning of historically underserved students — a huge step backward for efforts to improve academic achievement. It would lock in major cuts to education funding at a time when continued investments in education are the only way we can remain competitive on the world stage. For all of these reasons, I and other senior advisors to the President would recommend that he veto H.R. 5 if it were presented to him.”

With no Democrat or executive support, H.R. 5 stands little chance of passing the Senate and making it to the Oval Office.

 

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