Hear that collective whoop from the Capitol? That’s the sound of education advocates and lawmakers cheering at the finish line as the first rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in more than a dozen years sails through Congress and on to the White House.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved the rewrite of the withering No Child Left Behind Act—the current version of the ESEA—by a huge bipartisan margin, 85 to 12, mirroring the vote of 359 to 64 in the U.S. House of Representatives just days earlier. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill tomorrow.
But even as educators and policymakers toast the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the next set of battles—over how the measure will be regulated in Washington and implemented in states—may just be getting started.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., would roll back the federal footprint in K-12 education for the first time in nearly a quarter century, putting states in the driver’s seat when it comes to accountability, teacher evaluation, school turnarounds, and more.
At the same time, it seeks to maintain what Murray and Scott call important “guardrails” to fix flailing schools and help close the achievement gap between traditionally overlooked groups of students—those in poverty, racial minorities, students in special education, and English-language learners—and their peers. (Everything you ever wanted to know about the bill here.)