WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement after the Senate passed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act with strong support (85-12). This bicameral reform bill will replace No Child Left Behind with new policies that will return greater control and flexibility to states and local school districts. The legislation must now be signed into law by President Obama.
Senator Collins spoke from the Senate floor yesterday in support of the legislation, stating, “Providing a good education for every child must remain a national priority so each child fulfills his or her full potential, has a wide range of opportunities, and can succeed in an increasingly competitive economy…Congressional action to fix the serious flaws with No Child Left Behind, while preserving the valuable parts of that law, is long overdue. That day has finally arrived…I know from having visited more than 200 schools in my state, that this legislation will be welcomed indeed. The Every Student Succeeds Act returns much needed flexibility to the state departments of education and to local school districts, where it belongs.”
Click HERE to read the full transcript of Senator Collins’ remarks from the floor.
Senator Collins was selected to serve on the Conference Committee for the legislation, which worked to find compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The Committee reported the final bill passed by the Senate today, which included two important provisions authored by Senator Collins:
1. An extension of the critically important Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) Program:
Senator Collins co-authored this program with Senator Kent Conrad in 2002. REAP provides financial assistance to small and high-poverty rural districts to help address unique local needs and meet federal requirements. This program has been particularly helpful in Maine and has supported a variety of initiatives that benefit students and teachers, including: new technology in classrooms, distance learning opportunities, and professional development activities.
2. An authorization for an Innovative Assessment and Accountability pilot program:
This program would support states designing assessment systems based on student proficiency. In April, the HELP Committee unanimously adopted a bipartisan amendment authored by Senator Collins to improve this program, including allowing more states to participate in the program, and giving participating school districts more time to scale up their systems statewide.
Several other provisions for which Senator Collins has advocated are also included in the bill, including support for quality after-school and summer programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, the Ready-to-Learn program to promote early learning and school readiness, and for arts education programming for disadvantaged students and children with disabilities.