In Partnership with The 74

No Child Left Behind reborn as ‘Every Child Achieves’

Craig Clough | April 17, 2015



Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). (Credit: Senate.gov)

Senators Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander (Credit: Senate.gov)

Move over, No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

In an unusual show of bi-partisan support, the Senate Committee on Education this week approved the overhaul of the controversial Bush-era legislation, re-branding it ‘Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.’

The bill’s strong bipartisan support — it passed with a 22-0 vote — gives it some momentum as it heads to the Senate floor.

How much of a rewrite is it?
While it still requires federally mandated standardized tests, the bill restores more local control, giving states far more responsibility for setting their own accountability.  Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the committee’s chairman and one of the bill’s authors, explained in a statement that “this change should produce fewer tests and more appropriate ways to measure student achievement. It is the most effective path to advance higher state standards, better teaching, and real accountability.”

Co-sponsor and ranking Democrat Patty Murray (D-Wash.) issued a statement calling the vote a “positive step toward fixing the badly broken No Child Left Behind law and ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn, no matter where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.” 

Where is the teacher’s union?
There are mixed messages. The Washington Post reports that the National Education Association (NEA) opposes the rewrite, while Stephen Sawchuk at Edweek posted a letter from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) that says the bill “heads in the right direction.”

Does it have a chance?
While the National Journal writes that the Senate bill could be “one of the only bills on the Republican agenda this year that President Obama would sign” it still has to get up enough steam to pass on the floor.

And then there’s the little matter of the other chamber; the House of Representatives is struggling with its own bill called the “Student Success Act” which Republican leadership pulled from a floor vote earlier this year for fear it would fail.

Republican leadership is facing challenges among its ranks on the right on such issues as vouchers and support for Common Core, and strong opposition from Democrats who fear the House bill would strip federal oversight that assures funding for poor and minority students.

While President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the House bill, this week Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement he “applauded” the Senate version.

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