House Passes NCLB Rewrite Version

This morning in a highly partisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Republican version of a No Child Left Behind (NCLB)  reauthorization.  However, a reauthorization this year remains unlikely because a version previously passed by the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee is vastly different in important ways, and it is unlikely the differences can be resolved.  Whether the Senate version will even be brought to the floor this year remains in question.

The “Politics K-12 Blog” at Education Week is probably the best source of information about the debate in the House this week and the bill’s passage this morning.  The NY Times summary of the bill and the politics of the NCLB reauthorization debate is excellent.

Here is a summary of the bill passed by the House this morning:

  • Would maintain the annual standardized testing schedule of NCLB.
  • Would continue to break out students’ scores by demographic groups and economics.
  • Would eliminate the federal requirement that evaluation of teachers be tied to students’ scores on standardized tests.
  • Would give states leeway in setting achievement goals for specific groups of students.
  • Would cut federal education funding by locking in budgeting at today’s level, including the cuts imposed by the sequester.
  • Would turn Title I, which now is directed to helping school districts meet the needs of poor children, into a block grant that would also encompass programs for English Language Learners, neglected and delinquent children, rural students and American Indian children.  Many worry this would further deplete funding for all of these groups with special needs.
  • Would end the competitive grant programs like Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants that have undermined the Title I formula and supported grant writers and consultants at the expense of direct investment in Title I schools that serve a large number or concentration of children in poverty.
  • Would eliminate the requirement that, to qualify for federal funds, states must at least maintain current state funding levels for public education.
  • Would permit Title I portability, permitting parents to carry federal Title I dollars to a different public or charter school if a student transfers to another school.  This would tie the money to the child, not to the school providing service and would be a very significant change in federal funding.  It is a sort of public school voucher program.

While the law would  reduce the involvement of federal intrusion into local schools (positive in some ways), it would also reduce federal funding, and through Title I portability once again reduce support for public schools in America’s poorest communities and neighborhoods, further threatening the viability of such schools and undermining support for the teachers there.

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