Something to celebrate: Bipartisanship at work in D.C.•
What a week for education policy wonks and Opportunity Nation’s dynamic network!
After years of delay and disagreement, Democratic and Republican Senators worked together to hammer out a compromise education bill to replace the outdated No Child Left Behind, also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the nation’s overarching law guiding K-12 education.
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed their updated version, called the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), by a wide bipartisan margin, 81-17.
Particularly meaningful for Opportunity Nation’s coalition, the Senate bill includes the American Dream Accounts Act that supports college savings accounts for children paired with financial literacy and support for families. This is a critical step toward ensuring that all students have access to post-secondary education after high school and key legislation that Opportunity Nation has advocated for over the past three years, alongside key partners. These include Steering Committee Member CFED, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
We are thrilled by the inclusion of the American Dream Accounts Act in the Senate version of the education bill and we want to thank all of you who helped make it possible. Your advocacy and passion, participation in our Hill Days, attendance at an event we co-hosted with CFED on Capitol Hill and willingness to reach out to your Members of Congress to urge their support of college savings accounts and financial guidance all contributed to this significant step forward.
While we recognize that neither the ECAA nor the House of Representatives version of the education bill includes everything our coalition has worked for, we recognize this bill as an improvement over No Child Left Behind, a broken law which has been in serious need of revision for the past seven years.
Opportunity Nation believes that a reauthorized education bill should focus on increasing multiple pathways to success by focusing on both students who have dropped out of school and those at risk of leaving the system. Programs should offer a comprehensive package of services that identify these at risk students and provide them with services designed to keep them in school and help ensure their continued progress.
We also think it is critically important to remember that one of the biggest accomplishments of No Child Left Behind has been increased school accountability based on the notion that all students matter. We believe that a reauthorized ESEA also must focus on continuing to ensuring program effectiveness by strengthening accountability.
We urge both Chambers of Congress to work together on this important piece of legislation and remain hopeful that a bill will reach President Obama for his signature this year.
To give you an idea just how difficult it is to get an amendment included in a major piece of federal legislation, and how extraordinary it is that the American Dream Accounts Act passed the 60-vote threshold with a 68-30 vote, consider a few numbers related to the passage of the Every Child Achieve Act of 2015:
Now, the hard work begins as the House and Senate must craft compromise legislation– a complicated process sure to be an uphill battle. We urge both Chambers of Congress to work together on this important piece of legislation and remain hopeful that a bill will reach President Obama for his signature this year.
But for the moment, let’s savor a rare bipartisan victory and the inclusion of college savings accounts in the Senate version of the education bill even as we prepare to fight for a bicameral bill that will guide federal K-12 education policy and programs for years to come.
Thank you for all you do to expand opportunity where you live – and thank you for your help in supporting the American Dream Accounts Act.