Vote Explanation for H.R. 5

07/08/2015

Today, the House passed the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), which aims to reform ‘No Child Left Behind’ and provide states and local jurisdictions with a greater say on how they will track student progress and success.

While I believe some provisions in H.R. 5 do a good job at replacing the rigid mandates of No Child Left Behind, I voted against the legislation because of concerns over funding, inadequate civil rights protections, especially for English learners and migrant students, and an inability to hold underperforming schools accountable. This is especially important to communities like El Paso which has suffered education scandals like the “disappearing” of students at test time.

Specifically, H.R. 5 would:

  • Cap current funding levels for education programs through Fiscal Year 2021, which amounts to an $800 million cut over six years. Further, H.R. 5 would lock in these reduced funding levels even if Congress agrees to a larger budget deal in the coming months and lifts the Budget Control Act;
  • Block-grant all funding that states receive from the federal government. This means that states could spend federal education dollars however they want with little guarantee that any of these resources are going to students and schools that need it the most. This would disproportionally impact a community like El Paso, as many of the schools use federal money to ensure that English learners, migrant students, and low-income families have access to the resources they need for a quality education; and
  • Eliminates requirements that underperforming schools and districts work with the federal government to establish action plans and goals that will help in improving the overall success of students.

The Senate is expected to take up their version of the Student Success Act this week. I am hopeful that we will be able to conference the two versions of the bill in the coming months and address the above concerns, among others. The President has also said he would veto H.R. 5 in its current form.

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