Vote Explanation for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (S.1177)

12/3/2015

Although well intentioned, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) doesn’t work for our students or teachers. While we need accountability at all levels of education, NCLB fails to provide the resources and flexibility our schools need to thrive. The law’s focus on test scores and punitive measures for schools that do not improve test scores is short-sighted and counter-productive. We do not need students who do well on standardized tests, we need students who can think creatively and solve problems.

We need a more holistic approach. That is why yesterday I voted for the bipartisan conference report for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (S.1177). This legislation is the result of a compromise between the House and Senate and, while not perfect, it is the best way forward to reform NCLB in a realistic and bipartisan manner, and has wide ranging support from groups including the American Federation of Teachers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Council of La Raza, the Business Roundtable and the National School Boards Association, among others.

This legislation will:

- Help states improve poor performing schools by transferring the responsibility from the federal government to states on how to identify and improve bad schools. This allows states the flexibility to find evidence-based solutions rather than take the current one size fits all model, while still keeping high federal standards;

- Promote high-quality choices for parents by improving and investing in new charter school models and an magnet school programs;

- Improve teacher quality by giving money to states and school districts who create evidence-based professional development programs for teachers;

- Adjust the Title II funding formula to ensure that states with more students living in poverty get funding that reflects that; and

- Maintain and strengthen programs like after school programming, STEM Education, Arts Education, and Preschool Development Grants.

The conference report for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (S.1177) passed the House by a vote of 359–64.