December 09, 2015
WASHINGTON D.C. – With the support of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), the Senate today overwhelmingly passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, a major bipartisan education reform bill that curtails the burdensome requirements of No Child Left Behind, reduces reliance on high-stakes testing, and ensures access to a quality education for all students.
Senator King released the following statement:
“Today is a victory for students, parents, and educators in Maine and across the country who have struggled for too long with unpredictable, top-down federal education policy that focused more on punishing schools than on promoting student achievement,” Senator King said. “This bipartisan bill will replace the broken No Child Left Behind law and finally turn the federal government into a partner in education – rather than the obstacle it has been – by empowering those who know our students best with the ability to make the decisions that will improve their futures.
“I commend Maine’s congressional delegation for their terrific work in reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” said Duke Albanese, former Maine Commissioner of Education and Senior Policy Advisor at the Great Schools Partnership. “Educators and policymakers across Maine have been waiting for nearly eight years for Congress to act to ensure that the authority to set education policy is returned to the states and to school districts. This legislation will ensure that the needs and goals of Maine students can be adequately met by those closest to them. This is an important day for students, parents, and educators across the country, and I am pleased that Congress has finally completed the important task of reauthorizing this important law.”
The legislation also includes provisions authored by Senator King that will grant states greater opportunity to pursue innovative testing systems, provide students across the country with increased access to the Internet outside of the classroom, and promote local stakeholder input in setting education policy.
“By easing testing requirements and supporting the development of innovative, locally-designed assessments, this bill allows our teachers to focus classroom time on the things that truly improve student learning,” Senator King continued. “And by promoting increased home Internet access for students, this bill takes a step forward in closing the homework gap and ensuring that the next-generation of learners – particularly those in rural America – aren’t left behind.”
“Senator King has been a steadfast champion to ensure that the ESEA reauthorization recognizes the importance of learning through technology – vital to all of us in every corner of the nation,” said James Ritter, Maine State Librarian. “The Maine State Library supports all aspects of the education technology grant included in ESEA, and of particular interest is support for education agencies to increase access to high-quality digital learning experiences in rural areas. Students in our most rural areas must be equipped with the technological resources – such as broadband access – to succeed in school and life. This provision speaks directly to combating the ‘homework gap,’ and any effort we can do to diminish that gap is an effort we must take.”
The bipartisan legislation reauthorizes programs and funding for elementary and secondary education while making significant reforms to the long overdue reauthorization that expired in 2007 known as No Child Left Behind. Senator King helped secure the following provisions in the bill:
“Local control is very important to the people of Maine, and we applaud Sen. King for his success in getting a local governance clause in ESSA. It respects the local school board’s authority to make decisions that are in the best interest of their students, staff, parents and taxpayers,” said Maine School Boards Association Executive Director Dr. Connie Brown.
The conference agreement, which passed the Senate by a vote of 85-12, is the first time in thirteen years that Congress has acted to pass a bipartisan K-12 education bill. The bill now heads to the President’s desk for his signature to become law.