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The Daily Dish: Senate Debate of #NCLB Rewrite Rolls On

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July 14, 2015 02:48 pm

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Senate Building

The Daily Dish digs deeper into one of the day’s top news stories on K–12 education. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed for all the latest updates and follow the Alliance on Twitter at @All4Ed for more education news.


U.S. Senate talks continued Monday on the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), a bipartisan bill to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). So far, over 20 amendments have been debated on the Senate floor. Monday, the Senate approved a bipartisan amendment offered by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D- WI), and Rob Portman (R-OH), that allows, but does not require, states to include indicators in state accountability systems that give schools recognition for preparing students for postsecondary education and the workforce.

“We can better prepare our students for the jobs of the twenty-first century by improving the way we track career readiness during high school years,” Portman said in a press release on his website following the vote. “While much focus is given to traditional college preparation, career readiness programs are also critical to help students obtain a job in a high-demand career field – and we must do better at encouraging states to highlight these opportunities.”

An amendment from Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ed Markey (D-MA), which would establish a committee on student data privacy policies, also passed with an 89-0 vote.

Though the Senate debate is expected until later in the week, Politics K-12’s Lauren Camera notes the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, (R-KY) move to invoke cloture on the substitute amendment and underlying bill Monday night could lead to a final vote on ECAA on Wednesday.

Camera explains: “In invoking cloture on the bill, McConnell essentially set a 30-hour clock during which all debate needs to be finalized. Once that time expires, senators will take an up-or-down vote on whether to adopt the bill as it’s been amended thus far.” She goes on to say that the halt would require support from at least sixty members, adding the Tuesday 2:30 p.m. deadline for all additional amendments to be filed could ultimately pose problems for those still making changes to their provisions. Reaching sixty votes would require some Senate Democrats to join with Senate Republicans to invoke cloture. Currently, it’s unclear whether McConnell will get the sixty votes necessary to invoke cloture because some Senate Democrats seem inclined to vote against it because they want to have the time to vote on their amendments.

Even with McConnell’s threat of a deadline on ECAA debates, Senate Democrats were expected to introduce an amendment on the floor that Camera says would “beef up accountability in the federal K-12 overhaul.”

The amendment, Camera explains “would require states to establish measurable state-designed goals for all students and separately for each of the categories of subgroups of students that take into account the progress necessary for all students and subgroups to graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary education or the workforce without the need for post-secondary remediation.” Still, Camera says, getting Republican support could be difficult.

Rachel Bird Niebling, senior policy and advocacy associate at the Alliance for Excellent Education, and Jessica Cardichon, senior director for policy and advocacy, note in the latest edition of the Alliance’s Federal Flash that several amendments are likely to draw a great deal of debate. Among them is an amendment that would allow students to opt-out of annual assessment testing require under the bill.

“The Alliance, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, Council of Chief State School Officers, and several others sent a letter to the Senate today expressing opposition to the opt-out policy because it would mask achievement gaps and undermine the ability of parents, teachers, and communities to target resources where they are needed. Now would be a very good time to contact your Senators to urge them not to support opt-out amendments,” said Cardichon.

For more on the Senate’s proposal to rewrite No Child Left Behind, visit all4ed.org/esea

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