Chalk it up as another (rare) bipartisan success in Washington, D.C. President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law Thursday morning, officially replacing its predecessor, the much more controversial No Child Left Behind Act.
The legislation maintains annual testing to identify groups of students who are failing, but empowers states to come up with their own standards and determine how to revamp schools that don’t make the grade. It comes after years of complaints from critics who argued No Child Left Behind spurred excessive testing in public schools and used unrealistic goals to label too many schools as failing.
While Pres. George W. Bush perhaps had good intentions with No Child Left Behind, it soon became a bloated, bureaucratic program. Every Student Succeeds, orchestrated by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), offers states more accountability and less pressure to submit to federal mandates, particularly on how teachers should be evaluated.
Some GOP presidential candidates, however, believe the bill does not go far enough in stripping educational control from the government. While Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voted yes, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted no and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX) didn’t vote.
Paul explained why he was opposed to the “flawed” legislation on his Senate website:
“I believe education is the great equalizer, but Washington’s intrusion in the classroom leaves most kids behind. This bill is not the solution, as it retains some of No Child Left Behind’s biggest flaws – a lack of adequate parental choice, a federal testing mandate, and continued support for Common Core.”
Yet, at a time when little gets done in Congress thanks to gridlock, a bipartisan bill that focuses on the children is a nice change.
The legislation was so unexpected, Obama heralded it an “early Christmas present.”