It appears now that a tentative date for debate on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secretary Education Act, S 1177 (ESEA/No Child Left behind Act) will be the week of July 7. The Senate is off this week for the July 4th break but key senators from the HELP Committee have been waiting to get floor time for the reauthorization since late April. In the interim the bill, which passed in Committee unanimous bipartisan fashion as a starting point for a full Senate debate, has been the subject of continued and ongoing behind the scenes discussions.
Last week’s announcement that Senator Franken and Senator Grassley had come together behind a bipartisan bill to implement protections for youth and children in foster care could result in the bill language being included in the draft that goes to the Senate floor for debate. The Educational Stability of Foster Youth Act is an attempt to align federal education law with what was enacted under child welfare law, Title IV-E in 2008. The bill would:
Ensure that children can remain in their original school when it is in their best interest— when they enter foster care and move from placement to placement;
Allow children to immediately enroll in a new school when it is not in their best interest to remain in their original school;
Give students prompt access to their educational records when they must change schools;
Require local educational agencies and child welfare agencies to work together to develop a process and ensure that funding for transportation is available;
Assure that a point of contact for education of foster children is appointed in the local educational agency when there is also a point of contact in the corresponding child welfare agency; and
Require a report by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services on implementation of these new assurances for foster children, including on the progress made and remaining barriers
If the senators do take up the measure on July 7, the debate is sure to take more than a full week perhaps longer. The House earlier in the year had attempted to pass their own version, similar to previous House bills, has not taken up the measure since. Leadership pulled it from a floor vote when it was apparent that with no Democrats voting for the legislation and defections of some more conservative Republicans meant that they didn’t have enough votes for their measure.