Senate HELP Committee Passes ESEA Reauthorization Bill
*Set Aside for Science and Math Professional Development Voted Down*
On Thursday, March 9, the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee passed S. 2, the bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It passed by a party line vote of 10 to 8 (there are 10 Republican Senators and 8 Democrat Senators on the committee).
Most of the Democrat amendments failed during committee markup, including the Teacher Quality amendment by Senator Kennedy, which included language to restore specific professional development funds for science and math educators.
A number of significant amendments made by Republicans were accepted and are now part of this bill, including:
Straight A's Block Grant. This would allow 15 states to consolidate most federal programs (including Eisenhower) into one funding stream (as a demo program). The House passed similar legislation last fall. Introduced by Senator Gregg (D-NH).
Public School Choice. Requires public school choice for students who attend schools in need of improvement or corrective action to transfer to higher performing schools. Allows districts to use Title I funds for transportation costs for these students. Also allows students from unsafe schools to use Title I funds to transfer to another school. Introduced by Senator Gregg.
Title I portability: Allows 10 states and 20 LEAs to direct Title I, Part A funds directly to the child and make Title I portable through a voucher. Introduced by Senator Gregg.
In addition to Kennedy's amendment on teacher training, other Democratic amendments which were introduced and failed (by a vote on party lines) included $1.3 billion for school construction and a proposal to hire more teachers to reduce class size.
Democrats and Education Secretary Riley have strongly denounced this bill. Senator Kennedy stated, "Today, the Republicans show their true colors by turning a bad education bill into an even worse right-wing bill." He promised a battle over S. 2 when the bill comes to the Senator floor for a vote. For Secretary Riley's remarks, visit http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/03-2000/0309.html
This bill may come to the Senate floor for FINAL PASSAGE as early as April. If you do not like this legislation, your Senators need to hear from you NOW. Tell them the problems with S. 2 and ask them to support a continued set aside for science and math teacher professional development in S. 2 of ESEA.
The Senate is in recess this week and many Senators are back in their states. If you can make a call to his/her state office this week (and PLEASE encourage others to call as well), reply to firstname.lastname@example.org with your state and your city and I will forward the phone numbers for your Senators' district offices.
If you can't call PLEASE EMAIL to express your views on this legislation. PLEASE ask your colleagues to email as well. Go to http://www.senate.gov/senators/senator_by_state.cfm and click on your Senator(s) to send an email. Only send email to the Senators who represent your state, and PLEASE include your postal address in the email. Ask your Senator to respond to your message.
It is important that you call now, and we will very likely ask you to call again when S. 2 is scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor. Thanks for your patience, please call, and ask your colleagues to call as well!! ---------------- For more information on NSTA, or to become a member, visit our website at http://www.nsta.org/ ----------------- Jodi Peterson Editor, NSTA Reports! Director, Legislative Affairs National Science Teachers Association *******************************************************
Jerry P. Becker Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA Fax: (618) 453-4244 Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office) (618) 457-8903 (home) E-mail: email@example.com