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More Changes Needed for School Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a hearing today on the Elementary-Secondary Education Reauthorization Act, Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said that more changes were needed for the school reform legislation that was reported out of the HELP Committee last month.

“Last month’s markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was a major step forward in the reauthorization process, which has been stagnate over the past four years since No Child Left Behind’s authorization lapsed,” said Senator Enzi.  “I expect that there will be many more changes to the bill that we reported from the Committee, in order to gain support from members on both sides of the aisle and to further improve the legislation.  Marking up the bill was only the first step in the reauthorization process.”

Enzi noted that in the buildup to the HELP Committee’s recent action on the ESEA bill, it received testimony from more than 70 witnesses, including the Secretary of Education, elementary education experts, state and district superintendents, principals, teachers and representatives of special populations.  The Committee also hosted a website where people from all across the United States could comment on the process, allowing each Senator to hear from constituents in regards to the concerns, fixes and changes needed to improve the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. 

“We must identify problems on the ground with the current legislation, and how we can create policy that provides flexibility for innovative approaches in the states,” Senator Enzi said.  “While NCLB pushed us to learn about and address many of the gaps in our schools, it also placed strict, one-size-fits-all rules on how states and local education agencies addressed deficiencies within schools.  The bill we reported out of the Committee attempts to remove NCLB’s over-sized federal footprint and return it to states where it belongs and is most effectively implemented.   It is important to note that I do not support 100 percent of the bill we reported out.   I would have supported a much smaller federal role and far fewer federal programs. To that end, I will continue to support a lessened federal role in schools, fewer federal programs, and greater transparency to parents through reporting on their child’s performance.  We need to place more emphasis on seeing that each child is getting the education that we promised.”

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