Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor speech: Fixing No Child Left Behind

Posted on June 6, 2013

I would like to say on behalf of several Republican senators, including Senators Burr, Isakson, Kirk, Roberts, Hatch, and Enzi that I am introducing today the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act. 

This bill would let states decide whether schools and teachers are succeeding or failing.  It would end the accumulation of federal mandates that have piled up on States and local school districts and has created, in effect, a national school board.  It would help 50 million children in 100,000 public schools learn what they need to know and be able to do by restoring responsibility to States and communities and giving teachers and parents more freedom, flexibility, and choices. 

While it is being offered by Republican senators, we do not see it as a Republican bill.  We see it as a piece of legislation that will attract the support of classroom teachers, principals, governors, legislators, and others who have been working for 30 years to set high standards, create better tests, create accountability systems, and  pioneering in developing teacher evaluation systems. 

We believe it is the proper role of the federal government to create an environment for better schools, but not to issue orders from Washington.  The combination of No Child Left Behind mandates, Race to the Top mandates, and mandates as a result of the secretary of education's waivers have created such congestion in the U.S. Department of Education that it has become, in effect, a national school board. 

We want to head in the other direction.  We want to give back to states and local governments the responsibility for deciding whether schools and teachers are succeeding or failing.  I hope all of our colleagues will read the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act. 

Senator Harkin and I look forward to the markup next Tuesday in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.  We will offer competing versions.  His is more than 1,100 pages, and ours is 220 pages.  This is a symbol of the differences in our approaches.  We will begin a debate which I hope goes through the committee, moves to the Senate floor, combines with the House in conference, and produces a result that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year.