House Committee Advances ESEA Reauthorization

February 2015

The House Education and Workforce Committee voted to approve the Student Success Act, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), after a 10-hour bill markup on February 11. Introduced by committee chair John Kline (R-MN) and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), the Student Success Act aims to increase district and state flexibility and allow Title I funds to follow low-income students to public or charter schools.

The committee also approved an amendment introduced by Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) that would require the Institute of Education Sciences to contract with an economist with expertise in workforce and government efficiency. The economist would be required to prepare a report for Congress that determines the cost savings that the Department of Education sees in the implementation of the bill’s provisions as compared with the costs of the current law, the No Child Left Behind Act.

The lengthy hearing offered Democrats an opportunity to state their displeasure with the process and their reservations about the bill. Ranking member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and other members, particularly those new to the committee, expressed frustration with the lack of hearings and time to adequately review the bill before markup. Rep. Scott convened a forum on February 6 that brought together civil rights advocates, teachers, and researchers, including AERA member W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has released a discussion draft of the ESEA bill and held several hearings. He and the HELP Committee’s ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), have pledged to develop a bipartisan reauthorization bill.