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House Ed and Workforce Committee Releases New ESEA Bills

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January 10, 2012

House Ed and Workforce Committee Releases New ESEA Bills

By: Mitch

On January 6, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce released draft legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The two bills released on Friday, the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, address reforms to teacher effectiveness and accountability systems in the current law. Additionally, two other ESEA bills that had previously been passed by the committee, one of which eliminated over 40 federal education programs and the other which provided greater flexibility for states in using federal education dollars, were incorporated into this latest legislation, a move which effectively ended the piecemeal ESEA reauthorization strategy of committee Republicans. 

Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said that the legislation will “change the status quo and put more control into the hands of the teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents.”  One of the major highlights from the new legislation is the elimination of the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) accountability system that is currently in place. States would instead be tasked with developing their own accountability systems. The bill also eliminates federally mandated interventions for poor-performing schools, turning over the responsibility to the states. It removes the “highly qualified teacher” requirement, but mandates that school districts must develop their own teacher evaluation systems that will be partially based on student achievement.

The efforts of committee Republicans to limit the role of the federal government in education have drawn the criticism of some Democrats. Rep. George Miller(D-CA), ranking member of the committee, stated that the draft legislation “abandons students, parents and taxpayers alike by failing to hold school systems accountable for improving achievement.” It seems unlikely that this latest measure will be able attract bipartisan support, reducing the chances that reauthorization of ESEA will happen this year. So far, the only portion of the Republican ESEA plan to pass the full House, with the support of House Democrats, was a bill to expand access to charter schools.

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