NCLB Reform Bill Passes Senate Committee

The Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011 (ESEA) has passed out of committee on a vote of 15-7 in an Executive Session of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

"This education bill we passed through committee today addresses the concerns that I have heard over and over from parents and schools across Washington state," said Senator Patty Murray.

"It builds on what is working in our schools, and it gives districts and schools across our state the tools and flexibility they need to offer every student the opportunity to get the education and skills they need to fill the jobs of the 21st century."

This legislation is the result of more than a year of bipartisan work within the committee and would replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind law.. The bill will focus the federal government's resources and attention where it is needed most: on the struggling districts and schools.

"This bipartisan legislation is a strong step in the right direction for Washington state students. Although it's not perfect, it is the result of true bipartisan compromise," said Murray.

Among the alterations, the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act aims to fix the one-size-fits-all approach created by the No Child Left Behind Act and eliminate policies like the "adequate yearly progress" requirements and mandated federal sanctions for all schools that create pressure to "teach to the test."

However, the NEA and AFT heavily criticized the teacher accountability provisions in the bill. And after lobbying over the week, the unions got their way – despite some mild protest – and a revised version of the bill was put forward by Harkin and Enzi with teacher evaluation measures stripped from the legislation.

The bill also looks to make schools accountable to the communities they serve by ensuring that all parents, families, and community members have access to disaggregated information about how effectively their schools are educating all students.

While supporting great teachers and principals and ensuring that all children receive the best instruction it will focus the federal government's role on the things it does best, while giving states and communities the flexibility they need to address the unique needs of their students and schools.

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