States, schools urge U.S. Senate to pass new No Child Left Behind law
WASHINGTON, Sept 12
WASHINGTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - States, cities and school districts are pressing the U.S. Senate to vote on "No Child Left Behind" education legislation, after the House of Representatives passed its version of the bill two months ago.
The nine state and local government groups that sent the letter, including the National Governors Association, said they were "encouraged" when the Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed its version of the school funding law in July.
"We urge each chamber to come together to agree on a common, bipartisan path forward to ensure a world class education for our nation's children," they wrote.
In the U.S. lawmaking system, the House and Senate pass separate bills that they must reconcile into one piece of legislation for President Barack Obama to sign. Democrats currently control the Senate, while Republicans hold power in the House, and the deep division between the parties could prevent agreement on a single education bill.
The Senate Education committee approved a version of the bill in June, but the full Senate has yet to take it up. The committee chairman, Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa, has said the House bill "falls short."
State and local officials have been pushing for a new version of the funding law since it nominally expired five years ago. Since then, states have operated under temporary extensions of the law as well as Obama's grant program known as "Race to the Top."
The federal government provides only 5 percent of education funding in the country. States, which provide 44 percent, though, have had a hard time supporting schools because of reduced revenues due to the economic downturn.
No Child Left Behind, which passed 12 years ago with strong bipartisan support, also tied funding to students' performance on standardized tests and penalized schools for "failing" - measures that educators have said were too restrictive. Since 2011 Obama has granted waivers to some states from parts of the law, if they agree to follow his requirements on college preparation, testing and boosting graduation rates.
The waivers "often impose new criteria not formally authorized in No Child Left Behind or by Congress on states, school districts and schools," the groups wrote. "Only a full reauthorization ... can support state and local innovation."
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