In a statement released on February 18, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Education and Labor Committee announced plans for a bipartisan reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
“Today, we’re announcing a bipartisan, open and transparent effort to rewrite No Child Left Behind—a law that we all agree is in need of major reform,” the statement read. “It will start with a series of hearings in the coming weeks to explore the challenges and opportunities ahead as we work to ensure an excellent education is available to every student in America. With a real commitment to innovation, we invite all stakeholders who share our serious interest in building a world-class education system to email us their suggestions.”
The statement was released jointly by Representatives George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, John Kline (R-MN), senior Republican on the committee, Dale Kildee (D-MI), chairman of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, and Mike Castle, senior Republican on the subcommittee.
According to the statement, the committee’s first hearing will be on February 24 and will focus on expanding access to quality charter schools.
The statement comes on the heels of a January 20 meeting organized by the White House and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that brought together key Republicans and Democrats to begin developing a road map for revising the law, according to the Washington Post. After participating in the meeting, Representative Castle, said the meeting “couldn’t have been more bipartisan.”
In a commentary published last month, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, observed that education is the one major endeavor in which Republicans and Democrats have largely avoided creating partisan divides.
“Health care deliberations have not been the Congress’s finest moment,” Wise wrote. “Bare-knuckle partisanship dominates other significant issues. The familiar issues around ESEA provide both parties the opportunity to demonstrate that they can work together when it comes to improving opportunities for children. Every incumbent heading home for a tough reelection campaign wants to be able to show a positive accomplishment that everyone feels good about.”