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ESEA Reauthorization: What’s in the Box?

November 18, 2015

Addendum 11-19-15: After only about an hour and a half, the conference committee concluded its meeting on 11-19-15 and said okay to the “framework” apparently with only a few superficial amendments. The new bill, named Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will be voted on in the House on December 02 or 03, 2015, and is currently scheduled for a Senate vote around December 07, 2015.

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In July 2015, I read that Senator Lamar Alexander expected to have the next version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) completed by December 2015.

It looks like he will accomplish that goal. Here’s how:

In July 2015, both House and Senate passed bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The House version is known as the Student Success Act (SSA); the Senate version is called the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) of 2015.

Both are an effort to reauthorize the last version of ESEA known as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. Since both House and Senate have passed versions of an ESEA reauthorization, they now must come together and sort out the issues that differ between their two versions so that they might present a single bill to both houses for a vote.

The committee chairs who presided over the House and Senate bills, Representative John Kline (R-MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), respectively, apparently had their people work with the people of Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) during September and October so that the four of them (likely through their people) could create what they are calling a “framework” for a single ESEA reauthorization bill.

On November 17 and 18, 2015, both House and Senate, respectively, decided upon the members of the conference committee that is supposed to negotiate the single ESEA reauthorization bill. But events are moving at warp speed for this conference committee. The committee had its first meeting on November 18, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. It was livestreamed and was more of a meet-the-press than a working meeting.

The second meeting is supposed to be around 10 a.m. on November 19, 2015– and it may well be the last meeting. Word is that the conference committee negotiations are to produce a final document that is to be made available to Congress on November 30, 2015– two days before the full House is expected to vote on it (December 02, 2015).

And what of this “framework”? Well, it is apparently more of a finished product– and it is not available electronically, even to conference committee members. For example, Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) was appointed to the conference committee on November 17, 2015, and on November 17, 2015, he received a cardboard box approximately six inches thick with a paper copy of the “framework”– which does not even include numbered pages.

Sending only a paper copy of the document makes publicizing it virtually impossible– and Messer and other committee members would not have the time to do so, anyway, given that they are supposed to be well versed in its contents for possibly the only working conference committee meeting on the morning of November 19, 2015.

Still, there are some beltway folk (here’s one) who have likely seen the “framework” and are writing about it now as though the “framework” is the final bill.

Given the rush through conference committee, such will likely be the case. Suffice it to say that it is highly likely that whatever made it into the “framework” is what will be in the final version of the bill that makes it to the House and Senate for that December 2015 vote.

cardboard box

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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 (April 2014, Information Age Publishing).

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? (June 2015, TC Press).

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

9 Comments
  1. Bruce Hunter permalink

    Sounds like an improvement over current law. Best feature is that the Secretay loses the ability to dominate the states. But this sorry collection of state cheifs may still roll over for the feds because they don’t seem to know any better

  2. Sounds like some real bad things are being stuffed into the federal take over of public schools. We know that massive testing of all students in grades 1-8 and 11th is already in this bill. What new is it that cannot be revealed in public? When a law is being rushed through after 5 years of inaction and people cannot read the proposals, that is a bad omen.

  3. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    I am a person who cares and wants to know all I can and be involved. The only way I know about this is through your blog!!!! This is so completely unacceptable. No one can look at what is to become the new law, just like now one can look at the tests except these poor kids who then aren’t allowed to talk about it!!!!

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