The House Education and the Workforce Committee on Wednesday passed the Student Success Act, chairman Rep. John Kline’s R-Minn. rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act with a 23-16 vote along party lines.
“Our students deserve more than a short-term fix,” Kline said. “They deserve a better law.”
Kline’s bill goes further than any No Child Left Behind reauthorization attempt in recent years, moving far afield from George W. Bush’s 2001 education brainchild by dramatically reducing the federal government’s role in America’s schools. Kline has eschewed federally prescribed performance goals, a shift for which groups ranging from education advocates to the Chamber of Commerce have attacked him.
Kline says preserving the requirement that states must report student test scores by ethnicity, language ability and socioeconomic status is accountability enough, since it empowers parents.
Kline said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor R-Va. has told him to expect a floor vote in July. While it’s possible the bill could pass the House, it is unclear how it would be conferenced with a competing Senate bill.
The Senate voted last week to advance a wildly different version of the reauthorization, written by Sen. Tom Harkin D-Iowa, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, with a majority Democratic party-line vote. Harkin’s bill pulls back on NCLB’s stringent “adequate yearly progress” goals and consequences for schools, but maintains some performance goals and accountability. In one way, though, Kline’s bill is more prescriptive in its language explicitly mandating that teacher evaluations rely, in part, on students’ test scores.
House Democrats, led by ranking member Rep. George Miller D-Calif., offered an amendment during the House hearing Wednesday that would replace the Kline bill with something closer to the 2001 law, but the measure was voted down along party lines, 23 to 15. At the hearing, Miller called Kline’s bill “an ideological bill that severely weakens our nation’s commitment to civil rights in education,” because it would pull back on performance goals, learning standards and lower the bar for disabled students.
“Kline’s bill is a major retreat on accountability. States would no longer have to have systems that measure student growth. It’s a major step backwards,” Rep. Jared Polis D-Colo., a committee member, told HuffPost before the hearing. More…