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Senate ESEA Draft: Review of Approved Amendments– Part III (All Done)

May 1, 2015

On April 16, 2015, the Senate education committee approved the Alexander-Murray draft of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), a 601-page document entitled, The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.

The draft approval was accompanied by 29 amendments, which can be found on this Senate ed page.

I reviewed the entire original 601-page Alexander-Murray draft in a series of six posts that can be accessed here.

I have already reviewed 20 of the 29 amendments. My review of the first 10 can be accessed here, and the second 10 can be accessed here.

In this post, I conclude my review of the 29 amendments with the last nine.

Let’s jump right in.


This nine-page amendment adds to Title VII (“Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education”) grants for Native American and Alaska Native Immersion schools and programs. That is, these grants promote the usage of Native American and Alaska native languages as the primary languages of instruction. Of course, given this is ESEA in 2015, one goal is “to improve student outcomes within Native American and Alaska native communities,” which means test scores, but it also includes, “if appropriate, rates of high school graduation, career readiness, and enrollment in postsecondary education or job training programs” (pg. 6).

An interesting limitation to the US secretary of education is that he/she is not allowed “to give a priority in awarding grants…  based on the information described in paragraph (1)(E)” (pg. 6)– which means that the secretary cannot use this grant cannot to give priority to Native American and Alaskan native charter schools or private schools over local education agencies or tribal education agencies.

The terms of reporting the usages of the grant to the secretary is loosely defined in this grant: “Each eligible entity that receives a grant under this part shall provide an annual report to the Secretary in such form and manner as the Secretary may require” (pg. 9).


This single-page amendment to Title I clarifies that the stipulations of states’ implementing assessments that are the same for all students (except for those students “with the most significant cognitive disabilities” {pg. 41}) is not to be confused with the federal government determining state or local law regarding opting children out of such state assessments:

RULE OF CONSTRUCTION ON PARENT AND GUARDIAN RIGHTS–Nothing in this part shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent or guardian’s child participate in the statewide academic assessments under this paragraph.

In other words, the federal government wants to stay out of state and local decisions regarding parental opt-out laws. In order for such to be true, it must be the case that the federal government honors a state’s good-faith “implementation” of testing in accordance with the requirements for Title I funding and holds the state implementation as separate from student completion of the state-implemented tests when issues of parental rights enter the picture.

Mikulski_Title II_Amendment#1:

This nine-page amendment to Title II (“High Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders”) adds grants for “supporting high-ability learners and learning.” This part is also given the name, “Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act of 2015.” As the name states, this amendment is “to build and enhance the ability of elementary schools and secondary schools nationwide to meet the special education needs of gifted and talented students” (pg. 2). At the center of this amendment is the goal of meeting those “challenging State academic standards.”

Entities eligible for grants under this amendment include state and local education agencies; higher ed institutions, “other public agencies, and other private agencies and organizations to assist such agencies…” (pg. 3); so, it seems that any “agency” or “institution” is eligible to apply.

The secretary is also supposed to consult with “experts in the field of the education of gifted and talented students” in order “to establish a national Research Center for the Education of Gifted and Talented Children and Youth. A private entity may not lead this research center; only a state ed agency, or higher ed institution, or a “consortium” of state ed, higher ed, and “other public of private agencies or organizations” (pg. 5).


This 30-page amendment is to Title IV (“Safe and Healthy Students”) and is for “21st Century Community Learning Centers.” The amendment is to provide “tutoring… youth development activities, service learning, nutrition and health education, violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, physival fitness and wellness programs, technology education programs, financial literacy programs, math, science, career and technical programs, internship or apprenticeship programs…” (pg. 2).

The program is also supposed to “promote [familial] meaningful engagement in the education of their children” (pg. 3) and gives priority to schools “in need of intervention” and serving “at risk for academic failure, dropping out of school, involvement in criminal or delinquent activities, or lack strong positive role models” and their families (pg. 24).

A priority of this amendment is meeting the “challenging State academic standards.” However, grants can be awarded for other purposes, including but not limited to “programs that support a healthy, active lifestyle,” “cultural programs,” or “expanded library service hours” (pgs. 26-27).

It is the state that first applies for funds under this section, and the state is the entity that distributes funding to “eligible entities.” (See pg. 10). Unless the secretary contacts the state within 120 days to communicate otherwise, a state application is assumed to be approved (see pg. 15). Disapproved states have the right to a hearing (see pgs. 17).

Entities eligible for to receive this grant money from the state include both public and private organizations. The application process is supposed to be “peer reviewed” (pgs. 5-6).

State assessment results must be included in the evaluation of any state-approved program under this grant (see pg. 14). Program outcomes must be made available to the public (see pg. 15).

In disbursing funds under this grant, the secretary cannot show bias toward states or entities that intend to use this money “to extend the regular school day” (pg. 17)– a characteristic of many charter schools. States are also prohibited from preferentially funding eligible entities proposing to use the grant money to extend the school day (see pg. 25).

Murphy_Title I_Amendment#3:

This one-and-a half-page amendment to Title I adds language that requires a state applying for Title I funding to address in its state plan how it protects students from “physical and mental abuse, aversive behavioral interventions that compromise student health and safety, or any physical restraint or seclusion imposed solely for purposes of discipline or convenience….”

In addition to the general topic of physical and mental abuse, this amendment appears to be aiming at some so-called “no excuses” discipline practices, which one could well argue do indeed cross the line of “physical and mental abuse.”


This two-page amendment adds to the state report card requirements the inclusion that states report counts of the number of military-connected students (i.e., those whose parents or guardians serve in the military) as well as information on the academic achievement of these students. An interesting limitation is that “such information shall not be used for school or local education agency accountability purposes.”


This single-page amendment to Title IV formula grants to states adds funding necessary for the Project School Emergency Response to Violence program (also called Project SERV), “which is authorized to provide education-related services to local education agencies and institutions of higher education in which the learning environment has been disrupted due to violent or traumatic crisis….”


This 19-page amendment to Title V (“Empowering Parents and Expanding Opportunity Through Innovation,” popularly known as the title for charter schools) expands “parental choice” to early childhood education programs.

Under this amendment, the secretary is to give priority to states focused on programs for three- and four-year-olds whose family incomes do not exceed 130 percent of the poverty line (see pg. 6).

A state may receive a grant under this section only once unless the state is seeking the funds to serve children in rural areas, or if there is extra money left after all eligible first-time grant-seeking states have received funding (see pgs. 6-7).

Grant recipients need to coordinate with other federal programs, including Head Start, Individuals with Disabilities Act, and programs for foster children and child care funded via state offices of veterans affairs (see pgs. 9-10).

This amendment includes no prescribed state audit procedures for the funding. However, the US secretary “may reasonably require” an annual report (pg. 16); also, every two years, the US secretary must prepare a report for Congress regarding information on grant usage in each grantee state.

The end of the amendment includes the following “limitations on federal interference” section:

Limitations on Federal Interference–

Nothing in this part shall be construed to authorize the Secretary to establish any criterion that specifies, defines, or prescribes early learning and development guidelines, standards, or specific assessments; specific measures or indicators of quality early learning and care, including the systems that States use to assess the quality of early childhood education programs and providers, school readiness, and achievement; and the term “high quality” early learning or care; early learning or preschool curriculum, program of instruction, or instructional content; teacher and staff qualifications and salaries; class sizes and child-to-instructional staff ratios; and any aspect or parameter of teacher, principal, other school leader, or staff evaluation system within a State or local education agency. (Pgs. 18-19)

And now, for the last of the 29 approved amendments to the Senate ESEA draft:


This final amendment (a four-page one) is also for Title V (charters) “to promote literacy and arts education” via such actions as promoting parents’ reading to children “starting in infancy” (pg. 3) and including funding for “programs that provide high-quality books on a regular basis to children and adolescents from disadvantaged communities” (pg. 3). Also included in this grant are funds for professional development for arts educators and “development and dissemination of instructional materials and arts-based educational programming” (pg. 2).

And I am done.

I will ask readers to excuse my not reflecting more on the content of the amendments (and of the Senate ESEA draft in general). I am sleep-deprived more so than usual, so I must put this post and myself to rest for now.



Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication June 12, 2015.

CC book cover

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication June 12, 2015.

CC book cover



  1. Laura chapman permalink

    Thanks for undertaking this long analysis. I see that the arts are getting token attention in programs for the gifted and for after-school remediation and so called enrichment. Nothing new, nothing like a balanced program of studies in the arts, sciences, and humanities. That is largely reserved for the schools where the rich folk send their children.

  2. Tammy permalink

    Thank you for providing this analysis. Your time and expertise is very much appreciated.

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