June 12, 2013

Isakson pushes Republican plan to fix No Child Left Behind

Submitted by the office of Sen. Isakson

WASHINGTON — In an effort to fix the law known as No Child Left Behind, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today voted for an education proposal that would let states – and not the federal government – determine whether schools and teachers are succeeding or failing.

During a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee markup to reauthorize the nation’s main K-12 education law, Isakson voted for a proposal by HELP Committee ranking Republican Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., titled Every Child Ready for College or Career Act, which would give states, local school districts, teachers and parents more flexibility and choice.

Isakson, who cosponsored Alexander’s legislation, is a member of the HELP Committee, one of the original authors of No Child Left Behind, and a former chairman of the Georgia Board of Education.

Alexander offered his 220-page proposal as an alternative to the Democrats’ 1,150-page plan, S.1094, Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, which would keep many federal mandates in place, as well as create more than 25 new programs and more than 150 new reporting requirements for which states and local school districts must secure approval from the Secretary of Education.

“We have learned many lessons from No Child Left Behind over the last decade, including the lesson that education decisions are best left at the local level, rather than dictated by one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington,” said Isakson. “I am disappointed that some of my colleagues want to maintain the status quo. It is critically important that we continue to improve our education system because our children’s futures are at stake.”

Isakson also supported Alexander’s amendment to encourage states to develop and implement teacher evaluation standards, and Isakson cautioned that an overly prescriptive teacher evaluation system from Washington may result in unintended consequences, such as the recent teacher cheating scandal in Atlanta.

Isakson also offered an amendment to allow states to have alternative standards as well as alternative and modified assessments for students with disabilities. He also offered an amendment to ensure that state and local reporting of school performance remains strong while freeing schools from overly burdensome reporting requirements.

Unfortunately, the Republican proposal and Isakson’s two amendments were rejected by the Democrat-controlled committee.