Here is the response of the National School Boards Association to the bill approved unanimously by the Senate committee. It must now be endorsed by the Senate, then be merged with a bill from the House of Representatives.
NSBA contact: Linda Embrey, Communications Office
National School Boards Association Calls ECAA Vote ‘A Great Victory’
April 16, 2015 – By unanimous vote, the Senate HELP Committee today reported out the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), as amended. The three-day mark-up of the Senate’s legislation to modernize and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) allowed committee members to consider and debate more than 50 amendments, with 29 adopted, 8 defeated, and 20 withdrawn.
Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) encouraged a ‘yes’ vote on ECAA due to its bipartisan approach and “because the process was fair,” stating that “if you like the fact that we have the Department of Education running schools through waivers in 42 states, vote no.” Moments later, the Committee’s final vote was 22 to 0.
“Today marks a great victory for local and community leadership in public education,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association. “Though there is much more work to be done, today’s powerful vote demonstrates that we are one step closer to rewriting the broken No Child Left Behind Act and modernizing ESEA.”
Selected highlights from this week’s mark-up of interest to local school board members include:
A voucher amendment withdrawn, but expected to be discussed during the Senate’s floor debate on the bill (Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.)
Grants to states to improve the quality and reliability of state assessments (Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.)
An amendment to improve data collection methods and systems, intended to reduce the burden on school districts (Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.)
A change of the funding formula ratio, to 80 percent poverty, 20 percent population, regarding funding for high-quality teachers, principals and other school leaders (Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.)
Related to the Burr amendment, a “hold harmless” provision for states that would lose funding due to the change in the funding formula (Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn.)
Related to the Casey amendment, a gradual decrease of “hold harmless” funding, phasing out the provision in seven years (Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.)
Some of the more contentious amendments – a voucher amendment introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and an anti-bullying measure introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) – were withdrawn, and are expected to resurface on the Senate floor.
While the Senate bill is “imperfect,” according to Gentzel, “it is something NSBA and our strong base of public school advocates can work to perfect moving forward.” Gentzel also noted that NSBA is prepared to remain steadfast in its opposition to privatization – vouchers, tuition tax credits, and non-locally authorized charters.
While the Senate HELP Committee action is another big step in the legislative process, Senators must agree to move ECAA to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote. Also still on the horizon is the House version (H.R. 5) which has been debated on the House Floor, with no final votes yet taken.
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The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Learn more at http://www.nsba.org.
Linda Embrey, Communications Office
National School Boards Association
(703) 838-6737; firstname.lastname@example.org