Tags: Jeb Bush | No Child Left Behind | Senate | common core | education

Senate Education Panel Works on No Child Left Behind Replacement

By    |   Wednesday, 15 April 2015 12:22 PM

The Senate education committee began work on a proposal to replace the No Child Left Behind law Tuesday.

Several amendments were withdrawn by lawmakers as they tackled a piece of legislation that would take the place of No Child Left Behind, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, the panel's ranking member, introduced the replacement legislation last week.

On Tuesday, Alexander opened the markup session by saying the proposed legislation would improve the nation's education system.

"Working together the last few months, Senator Murray and I have found a consensus about the urgent need to fix these problems as well as a remarkable consensus about how to fix them," Alexander said, according to a press release.

"That consensus is this: Continue the law's important measurements of academic progress of students but restore to states, school districts, classroom teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement. This change should produce fewer tests and more appropriate ways to measure student achievement. It is the most effective path to advance higher state standards, better teaching, and real accountability."

According to a Washington Post report, several senators withdrew roughly 12 amendments they had written for the bill, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

"I know you've been working hard to make this a bipartisan bill, so I'll withdraw [my amendment] at this time," Warren said, reports the Post. Her amendment would have forced states to single out high schools sporting low graduation rates and put together a solution on how to fix them.

Private school vouchers and other more controversial issues were left on the table and will be tackled down the line, reports the Post.

"The problems with No Child Left Behind have been created by a combination of presidential action and congressional inaction," Alexander said in his opening statement.

"In 2001, President Bush and Congress enacted 'No Child Left Behind,' requiring a total of 17 tests between reading, math and science during a child's elementary and secondary education. The results of these tests must be disaggregated and reported according to race, ethnicity, gender, disability and other measures so parents, teachers and the community could see which children are being left behind.

"The law also created federal standards for whether a school is succeeding or failing, what a state or school district must do about that failure, and whether a teacher was highly qualified to teach in a classroom.

"If fixing No Child Left Behind were a standardized test, Congress would have earned a failing grade for each of the last seven years. 'No Child Left Behind' expired in 2007 but Congress has been unable to agree on how to reauthorize it. As a result, the law's original requirements have stayed in place and gradually became unworkable. This has caused almost all of America's public schools to be classified as failing under the terms of the law."

Education could be one of the main issues in the upcoming presidential race, thanks to the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Common Core is a set of standards that outline minimums for what students should know in English and math when they finish each grade. Critics argue it is a way for the educational system to be controlled and managed by the federal government, rather than at the state and local level.

Forty-six states joined the program when the standards were released in 2010, but three have since abandoned it — Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Missouri, North Carolina and Louisiana are working to purge it from their education systems, while another group of states — Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia — never joined the program at all.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican and likely presidential candidate, supports the controversial standards — a viewpoint that contradicts the typical GOP stance.

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The Senate education committee began work on a proposal to replace the No Child Left Behind law Tuesday.
No Child Left Behind, Senate, common core, education
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 12:22 PM
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