Via TheHill.com: Senate approves No Child Left Behind rewrite, sending legislation to White House

The Senate on Wednesday passed an overhaul of the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, sending the measure to President Obama’s desk.

Senators approved the conference report worked out by House and Senate negotiators in a 85-12 vote — eight years after the original law expired. The House passed the legislation in an overwhelming vote last week.  The White House said that Obama will sign the legislation Thursday morning.

All 12 votes against the bill came from Republicans, who argued the legislation didn’t go far enough. The “no” votes included Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), a presidential candidate.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), another presidential candidate, missed the vote but made his opposition clear in a statement.

“In many ways, the conference report was worse than the original Senate bill — removing the few good provisions from the House bill that would have allowed some Title I portability for low-income students as well as a parental opt-out from onerous federal accountability standards,” he said in a statement ahead of the vote. “The American people expect the Republican majority to do better.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), also missed the vote, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) voted “yes.” Both are running for president.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is challenging party front-runner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, missed the vote.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested that passing the legislation after years of failing to agree to a deal is the latest example of how the upper chamber is “working” under a Republican majority.

“Finding a serious replacement for No Child Left Behind eluded Washington for years. Today it will become another bipartisan achievement for our country,” he said. “The new Congress and the new Senate have had a habit this year of turning third rails into bipartisan achievements.”

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Via NYTimes.com: Senate Approves Overhaul of No Child Left Behind Law

An excerpt:

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday approved a sweeping revision of the contentious No Child Left Behind law, sending to President Obama’s desk a proposal that ends an era of federal control in education policy after 14 years.

The legislation, which passed the Senate by a vote of 85 to 12, would restore authority for school performance and accountability to local districts and states after a lengthy period of aggressive federal involvement. While it keeps the existing annual testing requirements in reading and math and requires that states act to improve the lowest performing schools, it allows more local control to set goals, determine school ratings and decide remedial measures.

“I believe it inaugurates a new era of innovation and student achievement by putting the responsibility for children back in the hands of those closest to them: parents and classroom teachers, and others,” Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who heads the Education Committee, said Tuesday.

Mr. Obama is expected to sign the bill, the product of a conference committee of the House and Senate that passed easily in the House last week with bipartisan backing.

No Child Left Behind, George W. Bush’s signature education initiative, had passed with strong bipartisan support in 2001. It introduced high-stakes standardized testing to gauge students in reading and math from the third to eighth grades, with the ultimate goal of making every student proficient in those subjects by 2014.

But as time went on, more schools faced sanctions, including closings, as they failed to meet what turned out to be an unworkable expectation. Republicans and Democrats alike backed away from the law as it became apparent that its penalties for struggling schools were overly punitive.

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