Senator Collins to Serve on Conference Committee for Education Bill

      WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has been appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to serve on the conference committee for the bipartisan education bill that will replace No Child Left Behind with new policies that will return greater control and flexibility to states and local school districts.
      This conference committee will include members of both the House and the Senate who will work together to negotiate the differences between the Senate passed Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) and the House passed Student Success Act. The committee will produce a conference report that will combine the House and Senate versions into a final bill. Both the House and the Senate will then have to approve the final legislation.  The Senate passed the bipartisan ECAA by a strong bipartisan vote (81-17) on July 16.
      “Ensuring that each and every child in the United States receives an excellent education has long been one of my highest priorities,” said Senator Collins. I am honored to serve on the conference committee for this important education legislation and I look forward to working in a bipartisan, bicameral way to help produce a final bill that will give students and teachers in Maine, and across the country, the tools, resources, and increased flexibility they need for success.  In particular, I will be advocating to ensure two important provisions included in the Senate bill are retained in the final bill: an extension of the critically important Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) and authorization for an Innovative Assessment and Accountability pilot program.”
      As a member of the HELP Committee, Senator Collins successfully included an extension of the REAP program in the Senate-passed ECAA.  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.
      In addition, Senator Collins worked to ensure that the Senate-passed ECAA authorized an Innovative Assessment and Accountability pilot program to 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.