House Passes No Child Left Behind Rewrite, Obama Pledges Veto

The Student Success Act, which was recently promoted at a high-performing DC charter school, was passed Friday by the House of Representatives, reports Howard Lestrud from Hometown Source.

However, President Obama has threatened to veto the Republican rewrite to the No Child Left Behind Act and Democrats have deemed the bill the “Letting Students Down Act,” reports Associated Press writer Philip Elliott.

The White House said the bill “would represent a significant step backwards in the effort to help our nation’s children and their families prepare for their futures.”

The rewrite eliminates large sections of the original proposal. The GOP’s version gives more local control and less power to the federal Department of Education while providing states with the flexibility to create their own accountability systems. The bill also calls for more charter schools.

The Republican-backed bill is a more conservative proposal than the one Bush signed into law and eliminates dozens of school improvement programs. It gives state and local officials the power to implement reforms and explicitly bars Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his successors from encouraging states to implement national achievement standards known as the Common Core.

The bill also sends states money in a block grant to teach English-language learners, students from poor families and rural students. States could decide which students would benefit most from those dollars.

On Wednesday, lawmakers considered amendments to the bill to address concerns including too much emphasis on centralized education and test achievements. Lack of parent choices including public charter schools and private religious schools have also concerned various lawmakers.

As it stands now the Student Success Act gives more power back to the state and school district by eliminating Adequate Yearly Progress and “Highly Qualified Teacher Requirements”, and allowing states and districts to come up with their own unique school improvement strategies. It allows Title I dollars to go to disadvantaged kids at the state’s discretion, maintains the requirement that schools distribute annual report cards, supports parents’ choice to enroll kids in magnet and charter schools, and eliminates and consolidates K-12 schools to encourage a more limited federal role in education.

“For the first time in more than a decade, the House has approved legislation to revamp K-12 education law. This is a monumental step forward in the fight to improve the nation’s education system and ensure a brighter future for our children in Minnesota and across the country,” Kline said. “The Student Success Act will tear down barriers to progress and grant states and districts the freedom and flexibility they need to think bigger, innovate, and take whatever steps are necessary to raise the bar in our schools.”

A Senate panel has also completed its rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act. Their rewrite also limits the role of the Education Department and gives states room to write their own plans.