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News & Press: Policy

House and Senate Work to Reauthorize ESEA, now known as No Child Left Behind

Wednesday, June 12, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall

As you may be aware, several bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate to reauthorize ESEA, now known as No Child Left Behind.

COPAA believes that students with disabilities have benefited greatly from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) because the law requires their academic achievement to be measured and reported. As a result, more students with disabilities have been afforded the opportunity to learn and master grade level academic content.

The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) is an independent, nonprofit, §501(c) (3) tax-exempt membership organization of attorneys, advocates, parents and related professionals. COPAA members work to protect the civil rightsand secure excellence in education on behalf of the6.5 million children with disabilities in America.

All students are general education students first. Whether they receive special education or related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, all students are entitled to receive an appropriate education from the public school system. ESEA must continue to work in conjunction with IDEA to promote a learning environment in which all children are given the opportunity to excel and become proficient on grade-level content standards. The integration of IDEA, Section 504 and ESEA must be enhanced to ensure all students regardless of disability status receive a quality education that prepares them to succeed in postsecondary education and/or in the workplace. All students deserve an educational experience that fosters academic and social growth by providing a challenging, meaningful, and enriched learning environment that builds upon their strengths and addresses their individual needs. Preparing our nation's students to excel in the global marketplace is our most important goal.

Towards that end we continue to push for provisions that:

· Ensure that the reauthorizations of ESEA provide for meaningful and measureable education for children with disabilities.

· Ensure that all students have access to high quality teachers, who are well trained particularly in the services needed by children with disabilities.

· Ensure that all schools provide safe, positive learning environments for students.

· End the use of aversive interventions; including restraint and seclusion.

· Ensure that ESEA waivers do not short-change students with disabilities.

· Require schools, including charter schools, to provide equal access and high quality education to children with disabilities.

· Prevent schools from using Response to Intervention (RtI) procedures to deny or delay students from eligibility for special education services.

· Ensure that IEPs have measureable, challenging goals aligned with state content standards.

· Stop out of level testing.

· Ensure that FAPE means that the Student needs to make real, measureable progress on challenging and relevant goals, and receives the services and supports to which they are entitled.

· Make sure there is robust and systemic accountability that is outcome-based and holds schools accountable for providing equal access to a high quality education for all students.

The Senate bill is currently being marked in Committee.

The bill being marked up is the Strengthening America Schools Act (SASA), (1042 pages!) which was recently introduced by Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and supported by all of the Democratic members of the Committee. With about 40 potential amendments filed before the start of the markup, the proceedings have been collegial, but partisan, since Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were unable to agree on a comprehensive, bipartisan proposal. Senator Alexander introduced his own bill (200 pages) that failed on partisan vote 10-12.

COPAA sent a letter to Senator Harkin praising him for many aspects of the bill, and requesting additional attention to aspects that will strengthen its alignment with IDEA. We support the comments of the coalitions in which we actively participate (Coalition for Teacher Quality (CTQ), Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and many of the points in the Collaboration for the Promotion of Self-Determination (CPSD) letter).

Here is a quick list of amendments/results introduced in the Senate so far:

1. Harkin - amendment that would stipulate that states are freed from all requirements related to Title I funding if they choose not to receive Title I funds. This amendment passed on voice vote.

2. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) offered an amendment that would replace the underlying bill's Title I provisions, eliminating AYP and certain other reporting requirements. This amendment failed on partisan vote 10-12.

3. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) offered an amendment to Title I related to the collection of data reporting on students connected to military families. This amendment passed with a vote of 13-9. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) joined Democrats to support the change.

4. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) offered an amendment that would strike all of the new programs included in the underlying bill, including Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, the bill's new STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education program in Title IV, Pathways to the Classroom, Improving Literacy and Student Achievement, Centers of Excellence in Early Education and many others (a total of 27) in Titles I, II, IV, V and XI. The amendment failed by a vote of 9-13, with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joining Democrats to oppose the change.

5. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) offered an amendment that would amend the provisions around "priority schools" to ensure that "increased learning time" is part of the interventions that are supported in the bill's school turnaround models. The amendment was passed without any audible opposition by voice vote.

6. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) offered an amendment that would support dual enrollment programs and early college high schools in an effort to make it easier for certain populations to be successful in both high school and college. The amendment was approved by a bipartisan voice vote.

7. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) offered an amendment that would allow states to choose their own high quality standards and to change them without review and approval from ED. The amendment failed on a 10-12 party line vote.

8. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) offer an amendment that would require states to include reporting on success in achieving industry recognized credentials as part of the required report cards. Vote is delayed until second day.

9. Senator Burr offered another amendment that would revise the state allocation formula in Title II by increasing the poverty factor resulting, in his opinion, to a more equitable distribution of funds to the most at-risk population. Vote is delayed until second day.

10. Senator Murray offered an amendment that would require new data reporting on interscholastic athletics to ensure that girls have opportunities to participate in sports similar to those offered boys. Vote is delayed until second day.

11. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) offered an amendment that would allow the use of Project SERV (School Emergency Response to Violence) funds for school construction noting that the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Vote is delayed until second day.

The Senate Markup continues this morning at 10:00 am and can be viewed here http://www.copaa.org/link.asp?e=exec@copaa.org&job=940478&ymlink=1515135&finalurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehelp%2Esenate%2Egov%2Fhearings%2Fhearing%2F%3Fid%3D9df7d755%2D5056%2Da032%2D524b%2Df74853bd2a26 .

We expect Senator Isakson to put forth an amendment today that would retain a modified assessment known as the 2%. Under current law, States can use a set of assessments and modified standards for children with disabilities who may not able to achieve based on regular assessments and standards. This is commonly referred to as the 2% regulation. COPAA sent a letter opposing this amendment. We cannot allow the practice of having schools to take millions of students with disabilities off track for a regular high school diploma as early as 3rd grade when assessment decisions are made in schools, relegating them to lower career and college expectations—simply because they receive special education services. Doing so officially marginalizes every student with a disability (and their academic potential), and expect less of them by virtue of having a disability.

Also - here is a review of all three current bills provided by Ed Week -NCLB Side-By-Side Comparison http://www.copaa.org/link.asp?e=exec@copaa.org&job=940478&ymlink=1515135&finalurl=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs%2Eedweek%2Eorg%2Fedweek%2Fcampaign%2Dk%2D12%2F2013%2F06%2Fnclb%5Fbills%5Fa%5Fside%2Dby%2Dside%5Fcomp%2Ehtml



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