House revamps ‘No Child Left Behind’ law

The House approved a bill to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law intended to give states more flexibility in testing student achievement.

“For too long, Washington’s priorities have outweighed what parents, teachers and local leaders know is best for their children,” said House Education and Workforce Committee chairman John Kline, R-Minn. “Today, we took an important step in a bold, new direction.”

No Child Left Behind, enacted in 2001, was championed by President George W. Bush and the late Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., as a way to make schools more accountable. Kline said the rewrite included reforms that would help every child receive quality education.

A key provision would allow schools to choose alternatives to controversial standards such as Common Core, and would allow parents to “opt out” from having their child tested.

No Democrat supported the bill, and President Barack Obama has threatened a veto. They complained the bill provides no increase in federal funding for schools to improve and that schools could use the “opt out” provision to skew results.

“This is a bad bill,” said Republican Bobby Scott, D-Va. “The funding formula takes from the poor and gives to the rich. It eliminates the responsibility to actually do something about the achievement gaps.”

The bill was also opposed by a small group of conservative Republicans who wanted to block-grant federal education funding giving states virtual carte blanche on how it would be spent.

The Senate was working last week on its own education reform bill, which leaders expect to complete in the next week.

The House bill was approved 218-213. Representative Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, French Hill, R-Little Rock, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, voted for it.

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