On Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee voted to approve two bills central to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, recently known as the No Child Left Behind Act, over the opposition of some education groups including CEC.
The Student Success Act (H.R. 3989) and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990) seek to overhaul key elements of ESEA/NCLB including the accountability and teacher quality systems by proposing a system of state-driven accountability and teacher evaluation systems linked to student test scores.
CEC opposed both bills, which if enacted, will lower standards for children and youth with disabilities.Of particular concern, the bill will
- Eliminate requirements that every student have a teacher who is fully prepared on day one.
- Fail to require and support ongoing professional development for teachers.
- Increase privatization and move resources away from public schools.
- Reduce, cap and eliminate funding.
- Eliminate important protections that ensure students with disabilities are held to high standards.
- Reduce accountability for students with disabilities.
Click here to read CEC’s expanded opposition letter.
While CEC has supported some provisions included in the legislation – such as eliminating the 2014 proficiency deadline and maintaining disaggregation of subgroup data – taken as a whole, the bills pose a significant step backwards in the education of students with disabilities.
During the markup many members of Congress raised this concern. In fact, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) stated that students with disabilities should be treated with the dignity they deserve by maintaining high expectations for their academic performance. He further stated that the changes to the accountability provisions proposed in this legislation would lead to a greater number of students identified as needing special education services.
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) spoke as a parent of a son with learning disabilities when she stated that students with disabilities have been brought out of the closet, eluding the poor conditions students with disabilities once faced in accessing an education.
Democrats, led by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) the highest ranking democrat on the Committee, proposed two alternative bills which would have provided many protections for students with disabilities. Both measures failed to garner a majority vote of the Committee which is comprised of 17 Democrats and 23 Republicans.
Having cleared the Education and Labor Committee on a party-line vote of XX-XX, H.R. 3989 and H.R. 3990 will now have to be considered by the full House of Representatives prior to becoming law. It is unknown whether these bills will ever be considered by the entire House as a full legislative agenda and a limited Congressional calendar are likely to derail any hope for an ESEA reauthorization in this Congress.
Stay tuned to the CEC Policy Insider Blog for continued updates!