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Reactions to Legislation Passed Yesterday by the Senate HELP Committee to Overhaul No Child Left Behind

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October 21, 2011 04:44 pm

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On October 20, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed legislation to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

The bill passed on a bipartisan vote of 15-7. All twelve Democrats on the committee voted for the bill. They were joined by three Republicans: Mike Enzi (R-WY), the top Republican on the Committee, and Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

Excerpts from statements in reaction to the legislation from members of the HELP Committee are pasted below. A link to the complete statement is also provided.

HELP Committee Members

HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA): “Tonight is a victory – both for our nation’s children and for bipartisanship. After more than two years of hearings, debate, and negotiations, the HELP Committee has come together in a bipartisan way to approve comprehensive legislation to improve education for our nation’s children. This bill will ensure that students graduate from school ready for college and careers and focus federal resources where they will be most effective. It will replace punitive sanctions and labels with supports for teaching and learning, increase flexibility for innovation on the local level, and distribute resources equitably to ensure a top-notch education for every American student. Like any major piece of legislation, this bill is not perfect, but it is an important step forward for America’s children. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and education experts to build on this strong foundation and improve this bill when it is considered by the Full Senate.”

HELP Committee Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY): “Today’s markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was an important first step, but we still have a lot of work to do when the bill reaches the floor of the Senate,” said Senator Enzi. “We must keep working in order to have true bipartisan education reform. I thank my colleagues for their hard work and look forward to continuing to work with them as we move forward in the legislative process.”

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM): “For too long, high schools across the country have looked the other way when their students dropped out. This bill, for the first time, shines a spotlight on these ‘dropout factories’ and requires them to make substantial improvements to better serve students who are at risk of dropping out.”

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN): “There’s no reason Congress can’t get a bill to fix No Child Left Behind to the president’s desk by Christmas. If Congress doesn’t act now, our inaction will transform the U.S. Secretary of Education into a waiver-granting czar over an unworkable law that has identified what he says may be as many as 80,000 ‘failing’ public schools, a development even worse than provisions in this draft that would make him a chairman of a national school board.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA): “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. 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.”

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