Legislative Update: House Passes Republican ESEA Reauthorization Bill

House Passes Republican ESEA Reauthorization BillCapitol

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Student Success Act (H.R.5), the Republican measure to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), by a vote of 221-207. Twenty-six amendments were offered; 18 passed, 4 were defeated, and 4 were withdrawn.

Representative Dan Benishek (R-MI) offered an amendment that encourage each state to include in its annual state report card the number of students attaining Career Technical Education (CTE) proficiencies enrolled in public secondary schools. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act already requires collection of this information and inclusion of the data in ESEA would help streamline reporting.

Overall, the Student Success Act would provide states and school districts much more flexibility on federal spending and improving low-achieving schools. Importantly, the bill does not require states to set specific goals for student achievement including sub-groups that are currently reported, which Democrats see as a major problem for maintaining accountability that improves equitable education for all students. It would also maintain cuts from sequestration, and remove the ESEA maintenance of effort requirement that requires districts and states to contribute specified levels of funding in order to receive federal funds. We will continue to provide updates as both the House and Senate seek to move forward their disparate ESEA reauthorization bills.

Senator Merkley Introduces BUILD CTE Act

Senator Merkley (D-OR) recently introduced the Building Understanding, Investment, Learning and Direction in CTE Act (BUILD CTE Act) that would help states restore CTE programs that have been scaled back or eliminated.

In his press release, Senator Merkley noted that, “As shop classes and electives disappear across Oregon, our students are getting shortchanged. I went to the same high school that my own kids attend today. I was fortunate then to receive a public education that exposed me to different skills and career paths. I’ve heard from manufacturers across Oregon that our state’s economy would be stronger if more kids were graduating with technical skills, so that’s what this bill aims to do.”

The BUILD CTE Act would provide $20 million in federal funds for the creation of a 2-year pilot grant fund. The grants, which would support CTE programs in middle schools and high schools, would allow school districts to make spending decisions resulting in upgraded, high-quality CTE programs that lead students to high-demand careers. We have provided input on this bill and will continue work with Senator Merkley’s office to move the bill forward.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

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