NEA State Leaders Lobby Senators on NCLB Changes
By Alain Jehlen
With letters and phone calls pouring in from educators around the country and visits from 15 NEA state affiliate leaders, a key Senate committee this week began consideration of a bipartisan bill to change No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
However, the debate stalled after less than two hours on Tuesday when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) invoked a Senate rule requiring unanimous consent for a committee to meet past the first two hours of the Senate’s day. Committee Chair Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) pledged to push ahead after the Senate adjourns or Thursday morning.
The bipartisan bill to overhaul NCLB was submitted by Sen. Harkin and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), the ranking Republican member the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP).
Nearly 150 amendments including a major revision from the two authors of the bill have been submitted and were scheduled for consideration by the full committee this week. But Sen. Paul has said he wants members to have more time to study the bill and amendments.
In revising their original bill, Senators Harkin and Enzi removed the requirement that states develop teacher evaluation systems that require significant use of standardized test scores. Extensive scientific research has proven that students’ standardized test scores are not a valid measure of teacher effectiveness, and NEA applauded the change.
NEA has lobbied for the federal government to pull back from specifying how teachers are evaluated, leaving that for states and educators’ associations to work out together at the state and local level.