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Senate ESEA Reauthorization Makes Attempt at Career Readiness


June 7, 2013


Senate ESEA Reauthorization Makes Attempt at Career Readiness

Earlier this week, Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee released his latest piece of legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. This bill, the Strengthening America’s Schools Act (S. 1094), makes a better attempt to prepare students to be college- and career-ready than other reauthorization proposals we have seen in the past, but it still falls short of truly preparing our students to be career ready.

Unlike in previous attempts, this bill would require states to align their college- and career-ready academic content standards with relevant state career and technical education standards and state performance measures identified in the Perkins Act. Previous reauthorization bills only required alignment to relevant state career and technical education standards.

Despite some positive changes though, the bill does not place equal importance on career readiness as it does on college readiness. The legislation does not ask schools to report on career ready measures such industry-recognized credentials earned, technical skill assessments passed, or other state developed measures. The bill also eliminates the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program and consolidates the remaining counseling services under the umbrella of mental health services.

ACTE and the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) sent a letter to Chairman Harkin and other HELP committee members today to ask them to make this reauthorization about real college- and career-ready students. The committee plans to mark up this bill on Tuesday, June 11.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), ranking member for the HELP committee, released a Republican reauthorization bill for ESEA yesterday. His bill, the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act, consolidates funding for ESEA into two block grants that would give governors and local school boards control over how to spend those dollars. The Republican bill is likely to be offered as a substitute amendment to replace Chairman Harkin’s bill, but is not likely to pass.

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) released their ESEA reauthorization bill yesterday as well. Their bill, the Student Success Act, combines three smaller bills passed by the committee in the previous Congress, and would essentially consolidate all ESEA programs into a single block grant to state governors. ACTE will be providing more information on this bill next week after the Senate HELP committee markup.

The Strengthening America’s Schools Act is likely to pass out of the HELP committee, but it remains unclear if it will be able to survive a vote on the Senate floor.

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