Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan resolution from U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law on July 26, 1990.
Senate Cosponsors of the resolution includes: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Angus King (I-ME), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senate Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and House Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) met recently to discuss proceeding with a conference committee to resolve differences in the House- and Senate-passed bills to replace No Child Left Behind.
The House passed the Student Success Act on July 8.
The Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act on July 16.
The two chambers will form a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two bills and develop a bicameral agreement.
To read more about the Education and the Workforce Committee, click here.
To read more about the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, click here.
House Appropriations Committee Democrats today released Republican Appropriations Bills: Shortchanging America's Future, Serving Special Interests that “highlights some of the most damaging funding cuts in the 2016 Appropriations bills, and policy riders that prioritize special interests and politics over hardworking American families.” For education it says: “The United States is far behind many countries in providing access to preschool education, and ranks just 25th in the world in enrollment of 4 year-olds. Early childhood intervention is critical in reducing inequality and narrowing achievement gaps. Yet the Labor-HHS-Education bill would de-fund preschool programs in 18 states, causing 60,000 children to lose access to preschool entirely.
“The Labor-HHS-Education bill also eliminates more than 20 elementary, secondary, and higher education programs, including those that reduce gun violence in schools and increase access to mental health services; support school counselors’ efforts to ensure a safe environment; promote physical education; improve the teaching and learning of science and mathematics, and increase literacy. $2.5 billion in net cuts and underfunding of core priorities at the Department of Education will inhibit teachers’ ability to reach students and prevent millions of students from reaching their full potential.”
On July 8, the U.S. House of Representatives completed its work on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). H.R.5 the Student Success Act squeaked by with a vote of 218-213.
On July 16, the U.S. Senate passed S.117, the Every Child Achieves Act, to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The bill passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 81-17, with three Democrats and 14 Republicans voting against the measure.
The two bills will now head to the conference committee who will draft a compromise bill that both houses can accept and send to the President for his signature. It is anticipated that the conference committee deliberations may be contentious as the House and Senate bills are significantly different in addition to the potential threat of a Veto from the President. The conference committee is usually composed of the senior Members of the standing committee of each House that originally considered the legislation. Stay tuned for the announcement of the conferees.
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) opposed H.R.5 due to its lack of support for children with exceptionalities and the professionals who work on their behalf. CEC has concerns with the Student Success Act as it: reduces the accountability for students with disabilities, removes the 95% participation rate for all students; removes the 1% cap on alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards; lacks focus on professional development; eliminates HQT; includes performance pay that is solely based from standardized test scores; increases privatization; ignores high-ability students; eliminates MOE; permits Title I portability provisions; ignores early childhood; allows parents to opt out of state tests; and includes new requirements without adequate resources.
While the Senate bill is not perfect, it has many provisions that CEC supports which include those that: eliminate AYP; maintain disaggregation of subgroup data; support early intervening services in general ed, UDL, and PBIS; maintain the 1% cap on alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards; prohibit modified standards and assessments; maintain Javits Gifted and Talented Act; support early childhood programs; maintain MOE; prohibit Title I portability provisions; and allow but doesn’t require new teacher evaluation systems.
Unfortunately, both bills eliminate accountability safeguards to ensure that children and youth with disabilities receive the resources they need to succeed. As the bills move toward conference many Democratic Senators and President Obama are advocating for strong accountability provisions and equitable distribution of resources in the final bill.
Secretary Duncan issued a statement upon the passage of the Senate bill calling for strengthened accountability. The issue of accountability will undoubtedly be challenging in conference for both the Congress and the Administration.