Posted on April 21, 2015
By Brian Wilson
SMYRNA – A Senate education bill reforming No Child Left Behind could lessen federal control in the education system and help calm heated debates about Common Core standards, said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the bill's sponsor.
The legislation passed unanimously this past week out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee that Alexander chairs. If passed and signed into law, it would ban the federal government from mandating any sort of education standards, Common Core or otherwise, said Alexander as he waited to take part in the unveiling of a new Nissan Maxima model in Smyrna on Tuesday.
The Common Core education standards were adopted by individual states before critics complained that the standards federalized school systems.
"Once Tennesseans understand that President Obama and Washington have nothing to do with imposing Common Core, which will be the case after this becomes law, I think things will settle down and Tennessee will adopt high academic standards," Alexander said. "They may be Common Core, or they may be something else. But it'll be entirely Tennessee's decision."
The legislation, called the Every Child Achieves Act, would allow states to create their own accountability systems and determine how much standardized tests should account for student and faculty evaluations. Supporters said the bill would "fix" the No Child Left Behind law that governs the nation's approximately 100,000 K-12 public schools.
The bill would still require students to take annual standardized tests in reading and math starting in third grade. It also would require students to take a total of three science tests between grades 3 and 12.
The bill must still pass through the full Senate and receive 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, though Alexander said getting the bill through his committee without dissent is a positive sign for its overall prospects. The HELP committee he chairs includes Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Rand Paul.
"We still have issues to resolve, but basically what we do is that we move decisions about how to help students learn back to states and school where it belongs," Alexander said.
Alexander also endorsed legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker that would force any nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran to be considered by Congress. The bill has bipartisan support among Senators and an endorsement from the White House.