The U.S. House of Representatives Passes Bill to Reauthorize No Child Left Behind

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, by a partisan vote of 221-207, with 12 Republicans and every Democrat voting against it. The bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). It includes an amendment sponsored by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) which would allow parents of eligible students to take Title I money to any school, including charters. Currently, Title I funds go to schools with high numbers of disadvantaged students. The bill dramatically reduces the federal government’s ability to set standards for students and teachers and gives that power to the states. It removes the focus on disadvantaged students and those with special needs currently in ESEA. The bill block grants certain funds designed for English language learners, migrants, and others and gives control of these funds to the states. In order to obtain support from some conservative members, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) had to give up on requiring schools to use student outcomes to measure teacher success.   The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions already passed a very different ESEA reauthorization bill, S.1094, the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). The House voted down an amendment sponsored by Representative George Miller (D-CA) which would have replaced H.R. 5 with the Senate’s version. Even if the full Senate were to pass Senator Harkin’s ESEA reauthorization bill, it is unlikely that the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill could be reconciled.