This week the Senate is expected to complete action on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), more commonly referred to as the No Child Left Behind Act since the last reauthorization in 2002. The House approved the new version S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act, on Tuesday with an overwhelming vote of 359 to 64. The text runs over one thousand pages and is a combination of an earlier Senate bill that passed the Senate in the summer by a strong bipartisan vote and a House version that was strictly a partisan affair.
Overall the bill frees up state education systems from a number of the restrictions and requirements as far as state testing and standards that were a hallmark of previous law. In regard to important child welfare and child wellbeing issues the new bill/law 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 by creating a new $250 million authorization with coordination between HHS and the Department of Education but housed in HHS similar to other pre-school early learning programs. It also allows states to use federal funding for training and education on child sexual abuse programs.
Importantly the new legislation mirrors many of the requirements first enacted under 2008 Fostering Connections to Success Act that amended Title IV-E foster care to require ongoing access to a school of origin for a child in foster care who moves or requires immediate record transfer and immediate access to a new school when in that child’s best interest.
There has been strong support for the final measure from across the political parties and advocacy groups and organizations. If the Senate follows through with approval as expected, it will complete what has been an eight-year process that began when the last reauthorization expired in 2007.