TOMORROW - Floor Debate Begins on Sen. Murray’s
Bill to Fix “No Child Left Behind”
(Washington, D.C.) – Nearly everyone agrees the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law is badly broken. The law set ambitious goals without giving schools the resources they needed to help students succeed. It over-emphasized the importance of test scores, and it mandated a one-size-fits-all approach for struggling schools, which hindered, rather than helped, a school’s efforts to increase student achievement. Tomorrow, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will speak on the Senate floor to kick off the Senate debate with Republican Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Murray will lay out why No Child Left Behind needs to be fixed, what it will mean for Washington state, and what she will be working on as the bill is debated on the Senate floor and beyond.
In recent years, the U.S. Department of Education began issuing waivers to states to exempt them from the law’s requirements, giving the states some flexibility as long as they adhered to certain conditions. Last year, Washington became the first state to lose its waiver from NCLB. Washington lost flexibility for $38 million in federal grant money and 88 percent of its schools were labeled as “failing,” leading to confusion and uncertainty for parents, students, teachers, and schools.
This year, Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, worked with her Republican counterpart to write the bipartisan “Every Child Achieves Act.” The ECAA would fix the badly-broken No Child Left Behind law, and would help ensure all students have access to a high-quality public education. (Read Sen. Murray’s Seattle Times op-ed here.)
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
WHAT: Debate on Every Child Achieves Act
WHERE: U.S. Senate Floor
Here’s what Sen. Murray’s bill – “Every Child Achieves Act,” or ECAA -- would mean for Washington state:
· Eliminates the need for Washington (and all states) to get a waiver from the federal government
· Gives Washington state the flexibility to establish accountability systems that are evidence-based and meet the unique needs of schools and communities
· Reduces the emphasis on tests so students and teachers can spend less time on test prep and more time on learning
· Maintains assessments to measure student progress, so parents, teachers, and communities know how students are doing in school and can see how their school stacks up to others in the district, state, and country. However, states will be able to use multiple measures in their accountability systems – not just test scores
· Includes dedicated funding to support early childhood learning
· Helps level the playing field for students who live in poverty
· Ensures programs to help English-language learners are effective
· Provides support for tribal communities, and communities that serve a high number of military families
The Every Child Achieves Act supports programs that enhance learning and improve student achievement
· Literacy programs
· Afterschool programs
· School counseling
· Physical education
· Education technology and closing the digital divide
· New emphasis on preserving Native American and Alaskan native languages
What’s next for Sen. Murray’s bill:
After passing unanimously through the Senate education committee on April 16, 2015, the bill now moves to the full Senate floor. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled floor debate to begin on the bill Tuesday, July 7, 2015.
At the same time, the House is considering its own bill. If both the House and the Senate pass bills, they will go into conference for a final version, before going to the president’s desk to be signed into law.