Senate Working Towards Passage of Every Child Achieves Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate Floor regarding the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act:

“No Child Left Behind laid the groundwork for important reforms to our education system. But with its authorization expiring in 2007, and with the previous Senate majority failing to replace it with a serious proposal, many of the original requirements stayed in place anyway and gradually became unworkable.  

“This resulted in a lot of states getting tangled up in endless bureaucracy, reducing their ability to focus on boosting student achievement and school performance.  

“That was certainly true in the commonwealth I represent.  

“Kentucky was actually the first state to petition for some freedom from the law’s requirements. And with that additional flexibility came better results.  

“Kentucky improved its graduation rate, climbing into the top 10 among all states.  

“Kentucky increased the number of students who met statewide standards.  

“And Kentucky raised the percentage of students entering post-secondary education programs, increasing that number from about half to more than 68 percent in just a few years' time.  

“So this additional flexibility has been good for Kentucky — but only to a point. Because the White House began to tack on more and more requirements as a condition of continued relief from the original law’s mandates, leaving many states in an untenable situation. This is how the White House was able to impose Common Core in many places that didn’t necessarily want it.

“In a sense, the flexibility one hand gave, the other has been continually taking away.  

“It’s clear that temporary relief strapped with other federal mandates is not a workable choice for states. This is why we need congressional action to replace the broken husks that remain of No Child Left Behind with reforms that build on good ideas in the original law while doing away with bad ones.  

“That’s what the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act before us would achieve.  

“It would grow the kind of flexibility we’ve seen work so well in states like Kentucky, and it would stop federal bureaucrats from imposing the kind of top-down, one-size-fits-all requirements that we all know threaten that progress.  

“Kentucky has already seen success with the limited and conditional flexibility granted to it so far, so just imagine what states like Kentucky could achieve when fully empowered to do what's right for their students.  

“Here’s how Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday put it in a letter he sent me in support of this bill.  

“‘I can attest based on our experience that the waiver process is onerous and allows too many opportunities for federal intrusion into state responsibility for education. The long-term health of public education in the United States requires reauthorization and an end to the use of the waiver as a patch on an otherwise impractical system of requirements.’  

“He’s right. And we’ve never been closer to achieving the kind of outcome our kids deserve.  

“Many thought Washington could never solve this issue. But the bill before us was supported unanimously by Republicans and Democrats in committee.  

“Members of both parties are having the chance now to offer and vote on amendments to the bill too. We had several amendment votes yesterday. I expect more today. And if colleagues from either side of the aisle have more ideas to offer, I ask them to work with the bill managers to get them moving.  

“This is what a Senate that’s back to work looks like. And with continued bipartisan cooperation, this is a Senate that can prove the pundits wrong again by passing another important measure to help our country — and our kids.  

“Remember: The House of Representatives already passed its own No Child Left Behind replacement last night, just as it has done repeatedly in years past. Now is time for the Senate to finally get its act together after seven years of missed deadlines on this issue. A new Senate majority believes that the time for action and bipartisan reform should be now — and with continued cooperation from our friends across the aisle, it will be.”

Related Issues: Restoring the Senate, Every Student Succeeds Act, Education, Back to Work