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House Version of NCLB Passes Along Partisan Lines

Today the House of Representatives passed a rewrite of the contentious (and by now six years past its expiration date) No Child Left Behind Act, the chief education law of the land. Only Republicans voted for the bill.

Still, the version from the lower chamber of Congress acts as an ideological counterpoint to the 1,100-page proposal put forward by HELP Committee Chair and Iowa Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin, meaning the road to compromise will likely be long and full of rehearsed barbs meant to discredit the other side’s commitment to sound education policy. If the Senate version was the first salvo, consider this House bill a riposte. The Senate proposal must still win approval by the full chamber, however. And many insiders are skeptical Congress will debate competing NCLB rewrites any time soon, given the stacked schedule of marquee bills like immigration that are viewed as bigger priorities for lawmakers. 

With that, here are snippets pulled from outlets.

Education Week: “The bill, approved 221-207, with no Democratic support, would maintain the NCLB law’s signature testing schedule and its practice of breaking out student-achievement data by particular groups of students (such as English-language learners and students in special education).

“But otherwise it’s almost a complete U-turn, policy-wise, from the existing federal school accountability law. States and school districts would get a lot more say on how they hold schools accountable for the progress of all students, including special populations.”

Huffington Post: “The new bill, written by House education committee chair Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), shows how far Republicans have departed from Bush’s big-government ideas on education. The bill abandons NCLB’s signature metric and has no requirement that states set annual goals for schools. ‘Hindsight is now 20-20 and we can now identify the law’s weaknesses,” Kline said Friday. He called it a ‘one-size-fits-all mandate that fails to provide schools any meaningful information about their students’ performance.’”

Politico: “It would block the Education Department from encouraging states to commit to common education standards. And it would end requirements that states preserve their own spending levels on education to receive federal dollars. Two core pieces of NCLB remain in place: Testing students in reading, math, and science and tracking the performance of groups of students, such as children with disabilities and students learning English.”

HuffPost: “On Friday, the House also adopted an amendment by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that would create public school vouchers.”

Washington Post: “But Democrats said that without federal oversight, some states will return to a time when they failed to do much to educate poor, disabled and non-English speaking students.

“The bill would freeze education spending at sequester rates instead of restoring federal dollars to pre-sequester levels, which means public schools would receive $1 billion less next year.”

New York Times: “But the measure, which would move oversight from the federal government to the states, faces significant challenges. Senate Democrats have proposed a very different version, and the Obama administration says it will veto the House bill if it moves forward.”

Associated Press: “Democrats denounced the latest Republican approach to fixing the problem.

“‘This bill guts funding for public education, abdicates the federal government’s responsibility to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to a quality education, and it walks away from our duty to hold school systems accountable,’ said Rep. George Miller of California, top Democrat on the education committee and a partner with Boehner and Kennedy in writing the No Child Left Behind law.”

Wall Street Journal: “The Obama administration, frustrated with Congress’s inability to renew the law, sidestepped it by issuing waivers to about 40 states and Washington, D.C., around key provisions of the law, such as the mandate that all students be testing at grade level by 2014. In return, states had to agree to specific policies, including linking teacher evaluations to student test scores.”

 Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons



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