Lawmakers last Thursday took a significant step toward approving a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) when a Conference Committee made up of Senate HELP Committee members and more than a sampling of House Education and Workforce members approved a deal. The vote was approved by a margin of 39-1. The bicameral, bipartisan compromise measure would replace the last reauthorization more popularly known as the No Child Left Behind Act and it reduces the federal role in education through the ESEA. Despite that it was opposed by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
The Senate had adopted a carefully crafted bipartisan bill earlier this summer after extensive debate and amendments in both committee and on the floor. The House re-passed their version that had been written in previous congresses. The four committee leaders, Reps. John Kline, (R-MN), Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), came to a preliminary agreement or “framework” as they began their discussions.
The agreement, called the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” eases up dramatically on testing and federal requirements and consolidates many programs. It leaves intact the 21st century Learning Centers which would continue to support after school programs. It also maintains the more recent pre-school development grants with coordination between HHS and the Department of Education but housed in HHS similar to other pre-school early learning programs.
The legislative language must still be released and it still is not certain it can pass both houses but with strong bipartisan support through the negotiation process it should be a likely outcome. It is likely they will attempt to move the deal after this holiday but days are rapidly running out.