In an effort to replace No Child Left Behind, House Republicans pushed through a new education bill in Washington on Friday aimed at giving state and local governments more control in determining how school systems are run. Washington Bureau Reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.
WASHINGTON - On Friday, the GOP-led House passed H.R. 5, a bill known as the Student Success Act, marking the first time since 2001 that an education bill made it to the floor of Congress.
That year, President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law with strong bipartisan support. The law dramatically expanded the federal government's role in the nation's public schools.
Fast forward 12 years and the debate over education, like so many other partisan fights in Congress, centers on the proper role of the federal government.
"I have the attitude that there is no role for the federal government in education," said North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican. "If I had my way about it, we would have gone a lot farther with this legislation."
"I think that the federal government has the ability to greatly assist the locals and the states with education," said New York Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat, "and allows everyone to have that equal shot at the great equalizer that education is."
The House bill rolls back federal performance standards, in part allowing states to set their own academic benchmarks, create teacher and principal evaluations and decide what to do about failing schools.
Democrats say the bill guts education funding and allows states to ignore its poorest school districts.
"This is really a failure of commitment to the nation's students, and it's a failure of commitment to the business community," Tonko said. "And it's why groups that are business-minded, there were concerns expressed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable. Of course, they need a quality work force."
Republicans who want the government out of the public school system, however, say what's really failing students is a misguided federal bureaucracy.
"We have the right to opportunity in this country," Foxx said. "We don't have the right to equal outcomes."
The House education bill is not expected to make it through the Senate, and the White House has already issued a veto threat.