A bill replacing the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in the House with a 221-207 vote Friday. Calling the new bill, the Student Success Act, a “significant step backward,” President Obama said he would veto the bill if it found its way onto his desk.
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 required states to give assessments of basic skills to public school students in order to receive federal funding. The Student Success Act would remove nearly every standard that states and schools have to meet in order to receive funding.
It removes the requirement that schools prove “adequate yearly progress.” Instead of following common education standards, the schools could set their own progress goals. Failing schools would not get federal intervention under the bill. Federal money would not go to certain school programs, rather it would be sent in bulk to states in the form of block grants.
Of course, no GOP education bill would be complete without someone tacking on a voucher provision. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Ohio, added an amendment Friday to create a public education voucher system, which lets those students who perform well in school to leave their public institution and go to a charter school, taking with them the federal money that formerly went to their other school. For every child that leaves on a voucher, a public school would receive less federal money.
An attempt to implement such a voucher system in the state of Louisiana was ruled unconstitutional in 2012. The program was the brainchild of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. A state district court rule Louisiana’s annual education appropriation was calculated exclusively for public schools. Diversion of those funds violated the state constitution.
Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the author of the Student Success Act, called it a “monumental step forward” in the U.S. school system.
NCLB was not renewed in 2007. Various provisions of the bill are currently being opted out of by 39 states.