The Elementary and Secondary Education Act Could Soon Change
April 6, 2015
After nearly two months of negotiating behind closed doors, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) and Patty Murray (D-Wash), the chairman and ranking member of the education committee, appear to be nearing consensus on major pieces of a bipartisan draft to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
The negotiations are still a work in progress, and the details are likely to continue to evolve before the education committee marks up a bill the week of April 13. Among the other apparent areas of agreement, are provisions that would:
- Maintain the education secretary's waiver authority from provisions of the law, but place limits on tying conditions to waivers.
- Require states to have challenging academic standards, but those standards wouldn't need to be reviewed by the education department.
- Keep in place maintenance of effort, which requires states to keep up their own funding at a particular level in order to tap federal Title I funds, while providing some flexibility for districts.
- Continue to require that schools have at least 40 percent of students in poverty in order to use Title I dollars for programs that benefit the entire school. The Alexander draft—and a bill to rewrite the NCLB law that was debated in the House—would scrap this requirement, allowing any school that gets Title I money to use the funds with all of its students.
Assuming Alexander's committee clears a bill, and assuming it is still bipartisan at that point, it will then be up to Alexander and Murray to work over their caucuses in order to garner enough support for the measure to clear a 60-vote threshold needed to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
Source: Lauren Camera, "Senate Education Leaders Close In On Bipartisan ESEA Rewrite," Education Week, April 3, 2015.
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