Senator Tom Harkin (D – Iowa) introduced a new bill today to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. The bill, titled Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, is another attempt by Congress to reauthorize NCLB, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2001 and has been up for reauthorization since 2007. Every Democratic member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has signed on to the bill, but it’s unclear whether it will have bipartisan support.
The Obama Administration has generously granted waivers to 37 states, including Arkansas, that have sought relief from some of the most daunting accountability requirements in NCLB, and Harkin’s bill allows states with waivers to continue operating under those plans approved by the Secretary of Education. These waivers appear to have alleviated, at least for now, some of the political pressure facing Congress to reauthorize NCLB, but most agree that a long-term solution is still necessary.
The original federal education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and provides federal funding to public schools to support disadvantaged and minority students. NCLB was one of just many reaurthorizations of ESEA since its original enactment. Congress has repeatedly tried, but failed, to pass a reauthorization of NCLB since 2007, and Sen. Harkin’s bill is the latest attempt.