House Republican leaders were forced to cancel a vote on a bill that would have updated the No Child Left Behind education law put in place by President George W. Bush in 2002.
While the annual testing requirement would have been retained under the bill, more freedom was offered to states and districts pertaining to spending federal dollars in the identification and helping of failing schools. However, many conservative opponents, including Heritage Action for America and Club for Growth, feel that more needs to be done to allow states and districts to set education policy.
“We have a constitutional duty as members of Congress to return education decisions to parents and states,” Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., wrote this week on Facebook.
Democrats opposed the bill as well, arguing that it would not allow the federal government to complete its responsibilities to ensure that poor, minority, disabled and non-English speaking students receive an adequate education and that billions in federal education dollars are spent wisely. The White House threatened to veto the bill, referring to it as “a significant step backwards.”
The No Child Left Behind Act hoped to close achievement gaps between poor and minority students and their more well-off peers. It required annual testing in reading and math for students between grades three and eight and then again in high school. Schools that did not show student growth were faced with a number of consequences.
However, the requirement that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014 was simply too difficult, writes Kimberly Hefling for Yahoo News.
In 2012, the Obama administration began to accept waivers that would allow schools a way around the more difficult requirements so long as certain conditions were met, including the use of the federal Common Core standards. So far, the standards, which detail the English and math skills that each student should attain by the end of each grade level, have been adopted in more than 40 states. The standards have been met with controversy as critics view them as an overstep by the federal government.
The bill was used by House Republican leaders to show their opposition to the Obama administration’s push for the continued use of Common Core standards. The bill would have also eliminated a number of federal programs and created a local grant program in addition to allowing public money to follow low-income students to better public schools.