Senate Advances Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reauthorization Leaving Out Important Provisions for Students with Disabilities

Last week, the Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ECAA; S. 1177) and replacing No Child Left Behind.  A number of key amendments that The Arc opposed were either defeated or the Senate did not vote on them.  For example, the Scott Amendment (S.A. 2132) would have allowed Title I funds to follow students to private schools; private schools would continue to be exempt from accountability for the success of students.  The amendment was defeated by a vote of 45-51.  Unfortunately, several important amendments that The Arc supported were defeated, including:

  • The Casey Amendment (A. 2242) would have provided universal access to pre-school and require settings that were inclusive for children with disabilities. The Senate defeated this amendment on a vote of 45-52.
  • The Murphy Amendment (A. 2241) would have required action when schools underperform.  Specifically, schools where any sub-group of students (such as students with disabilities) failed to meet state-determined goals would have received locally-designed interventions and supports.  Absent this provision, no action is required when sub-groups of students fail to meet goals.  The Senate defeated this amendment on a vote of 43-54.
  • The Student Non-Discrimination Act (A. 2093; Franken (D-MA)) would have prohibited discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  The Arc supported this amendment to protect all students, including students with disabilities, from discrimination and bullying because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  This amendment was defeated by a vote of 52 to 45 (60 votes were required).

For the bill to become law, the House and Senate will first have to form a conference committee and reconcile the difference between their two bills.  Both chambers must then approve the new version, before it can reach the President’s desk.

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