Blog: The Educated Reporter

House Version of NCLB Wins Committee Approval

Yesterday a committee in 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. Compared to the Senate version, which passed its overhaul last week, media interest for the GOP-backed House version is far more muted.

Still, the bill 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. Both proposals must win approval in their respective chambers first, however. Many insiders are skeptical Congress will debate these, 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 that wrote about the House vote. 

Associated Press: ”House Republicans on Wednesday finished their rewrite of GOP President George W. Bush’s prized No Child Left Behind Act, sending to their colleagues a bill that would strip Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his successors of power and give more authority to the states.”

Education Week: “You can take a look at our summary of the bill here, and the committee’s here, and see how it compares to other ESEA bills under consideration here. But, in a nutshell: The bill would keep the No Child Left Behind’s testing regime in place (each year in grades 3-8 and once in high school), but leave the actual school improvement decisions completely up to states. It would combine a whole bunch of education programs—including those for migrant children, delinquent students, English-Language learners, and others—into a big giant funding stream, with the aim of maximum flexibility.”

Huffington Post: “Kline has eschewed federally prescribed performance goals, a shift for which groups ranging from education advocates to the Chamber of Commerce have attacked him. Kline says preserving the requirement that states must report student test scores by ethnicity, language ability and socioeconomic status is accountability enough, since it empowers parents.”

Washington Post: “Kline said his legislation would ‘cut through the dizzying maze of mandates, reporting requirements and strict funding rules that make it difficult, if not impossible, for states and districts to improve performance and narrow achievement gaps.’

“His bill would preserve the requirement that states test students in math and reading annually from grades three through eight and once in high school, make those test scores public and show how certain subgroups — sorted by race, poverty and English ability — perform.

“Democrats argued that Kline’s version takes the pressure off states to turn around the worst-performing schools.”

Huffington Post: “’There’s very little common ground between Harkin and Kline. It’s difficult for me to see how they would be reconciled,’ said Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a member of the House committee.

“When asked whether it’s possible to reconcile the bills, Kline said, ‘I certainly hope so.’ He said he expects to ‘move into conference and start sorting out the differences.’”

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