The GOP Education Bill Focuses on Politics, Not Students
The House GOP's bill focuses on what's easy for politicians, not what's best for students
July 24, 2013
Given the state of the education debate in our country today, you might think that our role in education started with No Child Left Behind, but it didn't. It started with the Brown v. Board of Education decision and the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965. Since then, every iteration of ESEA has focused on providing equal educational opportunities for all children, especially our most disadvantaged students.
Rather than focusing on what is right for students, House Republicans passed a bill last week that focuses on what's easy for adults and politicians. It slashes vital programs and guts education funding to lock in across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. It no longer ensures schools take action when students are not achieving at grade level or do not graduate from high school. It allows any students with a disability, regardless of type of disability, to be taught to different, lower standards. And, it walks away from the broad consensus reached throughout the country that our schools must prepare students to graduate college ready and career ready.
I am not alone in my criticism and concern with the Republican bill. The bill faces united opposition from a unique coalition of business, labor, civil rights, disability, reform and education organizations.
As we debated this bill last week, I urged House Republicans to consider my Democratic substitute that would update current law. Instead of eradicating the decade of progress, as the Republican bill would do, my bill focuses on building off of what the law got right, modernizing what is dated and eliminating what is unhelpful. My proposal provides significant funding levels for education, maintains accountability protections for students and upholds our civil rights and equity responsibilities to ensure all students receive a high-quality education. Sadly, Republicans rejected the proposal.
There is no chance that the Republican bill will be passed in the Senate. Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has made clear that the Republican passed bill is a non-starter. He shares my belief that the House Republican rewrite of NCLB is harmful to children, parents, schools, communities, and our economic success.
For decades, providing all children with a quality education has been considered such a critical national priority that we have always found a way to come together in a bipartisan fashion to reauthorize and update ESEA. House Republicans should reverse course and work with Democrats on a bill that promotes equity for all students. It's the most important thing we can do for our children.
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