Last week, by a vote of 359-64 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replace No Child Left Behind. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass with bipartisan support, and then to the President’s desk for signature.
The Every Student Succeeds Act is the agreement reached by House and Senate conferees to reconcile the differences between the hot mess that was H.R. 5 and the better-by-comparison-but-still-flawed S. 1177.
As our Co-President Marcia Greenberger put it, the conference bill is not everything we worked for. For example, some good provisions that made it into the Senate bill were eliminated in conference, like measures that would have promoted gender equity in sports and dropout prevention for student parents.
Still, the Every Student Succeeds Act shows some promise. It will shed light on excessive discipline and harassment in schools, increase transparency on how certain groups of students—like girls of color—are doing in school, fix some resource disparities among poor and wealthy school districts, and require states to intervene when schools repeatedly fail to close achievement gaps for disadvantaged students.
ESEA reauthorization has been a long process, and the work isn’t done yet. The voices of parents and local community leaders are more important than ever. Vigilance and action are needed to make sure that local and state school boards live up to the promise of ESEA—to ensure that all girls and boys have the chance to succeed.