The No Child Left Behind Act has been shunned for years, and it looks like its record of failed attempts to improve education may finally be coming to an end. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted (359-64) to replace the central law, and a Senate vote will be held in the near future. If all goes well, No Child Left Behind will be replaced by the end of this year.
This rewrite of the education law is a combination of both Democratic and Republican goals: the Democrats’ aim to protect disadvantaged and minority students from falling through the cracks in failing schools, and the Republicans’ goal to give states and local school districts more control over public education.
This decision was finally reached after months of compromise and negotiation. Reacting to the pleasant news, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) told the deal’s chief House negotiators, Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.):
“It’s almost like Pope Francis created some aura that you have capitalized on.”
This new bill S.1177, also known as the Every Child Succeeds Act, will still ensure that states identify and improve failing schools, but will do away with No Child Left Behind’s requirement to have all students reading on grade level and the consequences of not obliging. Standardized tests will still be required, but there will be less of them.
This revision to No Child Left Behind is historic, and a Wall Street Journal editorial called it the “largest devolution of federal control” in 25 years.
Kline, who is chairman of the House Education Committee, said the existing No Child Left Behind law encouraged micromanaging the education system and wasn’t useful. He said:
“No Child Left Behind was based on good intentions, but it was also based on the flawed premise that Washington knows what students need to succeed in school.”
Kline added, “It’s a binary choice: You can vote for this new direction and give our children a better opportunity, or you can vote to keep No Child Left Behind.”
The new bill will likely cruise right through the Senate, and President Barack Obama is all but certain to approve its implementation into law. When word of the House’s decision was announced Education Secretary Arne Duncan released a statement that said the vote was “good news for our nation’s schools.” This part of the statement sums up the House’s decision perfectly:
“We are encouraged that the bill passed by the House today would codify the vision that we have long advocated for giving a fair shot at a great education to every child in America – regardless of ZIP code.”
Featured image via Ilmicrofono Oggiono / Flickr