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Posts Tagged ‘NCLB’

Flurry of ESEA Activity Ahead of Congressional Reauthorization Push

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

CapitolAlthough it’s only Wednesday, it has been quite a busy week already as lawmakers from both political parties begin to work in earnest on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Due for an update since 2007, the law more commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) oversees most federal K-12 education programs and provides supplemental funding for schools and districts throughout the country.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan kicked things off on Monday— the 50th anniversary of the law no less— with an address outlining the Obama Administration’s priorities for reauthorizing the nation’s primary K-12 education legislation. “I believe we can work together – Democrats and Republicans – to move beyond the tired, prescriptive No Child Left Behind law. I believe we can replace it with a law that recognizes that schools need more support – more money – than they receive today,” Duncan said. Further into his remarks, he revealed that the Obama Administration plans to request an additional $1 billion in Title I funding in its annual budget request expected to be released in early February.

After calling NCLB “out-of-date”, “tired”, and “prescriptive”, the Secretary went on to call for a strong federal role in annual testing and accountability— main elements of the current law and core principles undergirding the Administration’s ESEA state flexibility waivers to date. “Having accurate information about student performance, maintaining high standards, supporting teachers and school leaders, preventing students from dropping out and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline must be our top priorities” he said during his appearance.

Video and text of his remarks can be found here and here.

Congress Sets Its Sights on ESEA

A newly empowered Republican Congress has already begun to draft proposals to renew ESEA. Late last night, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a discussion draft for the reauthorization of the law. The proposal would significantly reduce the federal role in K-12 education and increase state and local flexibility for using funds derived from the legislation.

“No Child Left Behind has become unworkable—and fixing this law, which expired over seven years ago, will be the first item on the agenda for the Senate education committee,” Alexander said. “I look forward to input from all sides on this proposal as we move forward with a bipartisan process that will keep the best portions of the law, while restoring responsibility to states and local communities and ensuring that all 50 million students in our nation’s 100,000 public schools can succeed.” The Chairman has asked for input from the public on this discussion draft by Monday, February 2nd which should be sent to: [email protected]

In addition to the draft’s release, the Chairman also announced the first ESEA hearing of the year which is set to take place on Wednesday, January 21st titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.”

The Chairman’s full remarks can be found here and the discussion draft is located here.

Ranking Member of the HELP Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) also laid out her principles for reauthorization in a floor speech this week in response to the draft proposal. Those remarks can be viewed here.

Over in the House, the Chairman of the Education and the Workforce (HEW) Committee, John Kline (R-MN), is also expected to release a draft proposal relatively soon. Next week he will be outlining his priorities for education reform at the American Enterprise Institute. Find more information on that here.

Where To From Here? 

As we look to the rest of 2015, one thing remains clear— both Chambers of Congress, as well as the Administration, appear willing to reauthorize ESEA. The law’s renewal will be a central issue in the coming months and will likely be the primary topic for both Committees for many more to come. As that process unfolds, both parties will continue to stake out areas of priority while seeking common ground elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the key ingredient to the passage of a new ESEA will be President Obama’s signature. As lawmakers in Congress haggle over the finer details of a future ESEA bill, the issues of greatest importance to the Administration— access to quality performance data, rigorous standards, and adequate resources for schools and districts among many others— will continue to be recurring elements in the coming debate.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

By Steve Voytek in News, Public Policy
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Luncheon to discuss NCLB reauthorization: more questions than answers

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

NCLB reauthorization:  When’s it going to happen?  What’s it going to look like?  How will the stimulus factor in?  No one knows for sure.

Today, I attended a luncheon hosted by Women in Government Relations that featured Gary Huggins of the Commission on NCLB at the Aspen Institute and Danica Petroshius, former Clinton Administration and HELP Committee staffer.  The focus of the luncheon was the reauthorization of NCLB (or ESEA as people are calling it again these days); the discussion centered on the work that the Commission did in 2007, the focus of their efforts now, the role that Race to the Top might play, and the timing of reauthorization.

In 2007, the Commission on NCLB hosted a series of hearings and issued a report based on those hearings that offered recommendations for strengthening NCLB.  The report covered areas such as accountability, data, highly qualified teachers, and school improvement.  This year the Commission plans to take the same approach – they will conduct hearings in the fall/winter and issue a report next spring on what needs to be done in the next reauthorization of ESEA.  Their areas of focus this time around include high schools, school improvement, teacher and principal effectiveness, accountability and innovation.

The Race to the Top funds are seen as the Administration’s vehicle for school reform and were referred to several times during the discussion as “shadow NCLB.”  People tend to think that either the President is content to further his reform agenda through Race to the Top without having to tackle reauthorization, or that the four pillars of reform in Race to the Top will be the foundation for the next iteration of ESEA.

As for timing, some in the group speculated that reauthorization would not be for another 2 to 3 years.  There are a variety of reasons for this, and we touched on just a few.  The key reason that reauthorization failed in 2007 was because there was no consensus around accountability and teacher effectiveness based on student achievement.  Since those issues have only grown bigger in the last two years, it seems unlikely that opposing sides want to take on NCLB; however they must be addressed in order for reauthorization to happen.  The passing of Senator Kennedy also seems to dim the chances for a bipartisan effort on these contentious issues.  And finally, healthcare is eating up time on the legislative calendar this session, thus making the reauthorization of NCLB unlikely in the near future.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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