by JCM | The following is from California Dept of Eds federal update e-mail from advocates Brustein & Manasevit on federal issues
24 APRIL 2015 :: With Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) saying he wants to put legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on the Senate floor before the Memorial Day recess, lawmakers are positioning themselves to offer amendments on a number of controversial issues.
Several amendments submitted during Committee markup of the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) were ultimately withdrawn by their sponsors in favor of floor consideration, including an amendment from Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) which would create a Title I “portability” option. This option would allow States to set up systems in which funds are allocated to districts and then to schools – including charters and private schools – based on their population of Title I-eligible students. There is a similar provision in the House’s ESEA reauthorization bill (which is still awaiting a final vote), but Congressional Democrats and President Obama have spoken out against it.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) offered an amendment regarding data which she also withdrew with the intention of reintroducing during debate on the floor. Her amendment would require cross-tabulation of student assessment data across various reporting categories. While cross-tabulated data does provide more information for teachers, principals, and analysts, it represents a significantly increased burden for data reporting.
A version of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination because of a student’s actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation, was offered as an amendment in Committee by Senator Al Franken (D-MN). Franken also quickly withdrew this amendment with the intention of reintroducing it on the floor. And both Franken and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) say they will bring up amendments on bullying – an issue that failed to gain traction during markup – in floor debate.
But not all the potential floor amendments come from Committee members. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced legislation on Tuesday which would roll back some of the current testing requirements under ESEA, making such tests a requirement only once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school. Tester has said that he plans to raise that legislation as an amendment during debate on the ECAA.
While some of these amendments will be offered during floor debate with the blessing of Alexander and Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), others threaten to slow down consideration of the bill or even stall it entirely. As the Title I portability provision in the House bill was mentioned in President Obama’s veto threat, Scott’s portability amendment could prove to be a poison pill for the Senate bill – and Senators will have to consider these kinds of implications carefully if they wish to see the President sign a reauthorization bill into law.
- Resources: Lyndsey Layton, “Sen. Jon Tester Seeks to End Annual Standardized Testing,” The Washington Post, April 21, 2015 | http://wapo.st/1z235EA