WASHINGTON – Ten years after President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law and more than four years after it was due to be renewed, House Republican leaders have unveiled legislation to overhaul the controversial education law.
House Education and
Kline said his bill “will change the status quo and put more control into the hands of the teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents who know the needs of children best.”
The bill focuses on accountability, ending Adequate Yearly Reports from schools in favor of accountability standards to be determined by states – not the federal government. The legislation also gives school districts more flexibility to tailor funding towards each districts’ specific needs.
The proposed legislation would also remove the current Highly Qualified Teachers requirement, instead allowing states to create teacher evaluation systems under broad federal parameters.
Though the bill introduces significant changes, Kline said it is merely the beginning of long process towards rewriting the existing education law, No Child Left Behind.
“It is a step forward in the ongoing debate…“ Kline said. “I look forward to gaining input from my Congressional colleagues, state and local leaders, and the American public.”
Gaining support from other lawmakers, specifically Democrats, however, may represent a substantial roadblock in passing this legislation. Republicans drafted legislation without the assistance of Democrats according to Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. Miller, the senior Democrat on the committee, put out a statement venting frustration with the partisan legislation.
“By abandoning efforts to reach a consensus, this partisanship shuts the door on NCLB reform in this Congress,” Miller said. “And the end of the rewrite of this law means our nation’s children will be stuck under an outdated law for the foreseeable future.”
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, Pensions Committee passed similar legislation out of committee in October by a bipartisan vote of 15-7. Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, expressed his regret that the House did not take a bipartisan approach. Harkin said he was disappointed that Rep. Kline “abandoned the longstanding tradition of bipartisanship when it comes to the education of our kids.”
With legislative gridlock looming, the Department of Education has offered flexibility in complying with No Child Left Behind by allowing states “to create fair, flexible and focused accountability systems,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Sunday in the Washington Post. Duncan said he is proposing immediate relief from problems in the current education law. He said39 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have already expressed interest in taking advantage of this flexibility.
“Congress has yet to act even though No Child Left Behind is four years overdue for renewal,” Duncan said. “Education reform requires elected officials from both sides of the aisle to come together. We can’t let partisan politics stand in the way… States and school districts need relief from NCLB right now.”
No Child Left Behind was originally signed into law in 2002. Though the law was due for renewal in 2007, lawmakers have yet to gain significant ground in passing a new version despite widespread dissatisfaction with the outdated policies.