History has been made this afternoon as the U.S. Senate successfully voted on and passed S. 1177, the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act, to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). S. 1177 just passed by a roll call vote of 81-17. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) outlined its top priorities in a July 6 letter to the Senate, (1) reaffirming local-level decision making in public education and (2) opposing any proposals supporting vouchers or tuition tax credits to nonpublic schools. NSBA accomplished both of these priorities and applauds the continued momentum on ESEA reauthorization.
- Senator Deb Fischer’s (R-NE) Local Governance Amendment – Approved
Last week, Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced and successfully passed by voice vote Amendment No. 2079 for local governance. This is a tremendous victory for school districts. Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Jon Tester (D-MT) co-sponsored the tripartisan amendment, which would “ensure that our local stakeholders have a stronger voice in both the regulatory and guidance processes” for ESEA. “This amendment would ensure that communities have ultimate authority over their school districts,” said Senator Fischer, who is also a past president of the Nebraska Association of School Boards. “It also strengthens the relationship among local school board members and parents.”
- Voucher Proposals – Defeated
Earlier this week, an amendment offered by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) on school choice was defeated by a vote of 45-51 – another strong victory for school districts. Four senators did not vote. The amendment would have allowed Title I dollars to follow any eligible student who would choose to attend any public or private school within their respective district. NSBA is grateful to all of you who responded to our call to action urging senators to say “no” to private school vouchers. View NSBA’s press release and NSBA coverage in The Washington Post.
Several notable amendments were considered in the lead-up to today’s final passage, including: (1) Cruz SA #2180 on state-determined assessments and accountability which was defeated by a vote of 40-58; (2) Sanders SA #2177 on youth employment which failed by a vote of 43-55; (3) Coons SA #2243 regarding American Dream Accounts which passed by a vote of 68-30; (4) Burr SA #2247 (as modified) to change the ESEA Title I funding formula which passed by a vote of 59-39; (5) Brown SA #2100 regarding full-service community schools which passed by a vote 53-44; and (6) Casey SA #2242 on pre-k which was defeated by a vote of 45-52.
Additional amendments were defeated last week that would (1) restructure the Title I program into individual scholarships for vouchers, and (2) to restructure the ESEA funding into a block grant to states that would allow funds to be used for “any educational purpose” permitted under state law.
Next steps: The legislation will now head to a Conference Committee with House leaders to reconcile differences with H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, which was passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives.