WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and a conferee, released the following statement after the joint conference committee for the bipartisan education bill adopted the final conference report (39-1). This bicameral, bipartisan legislation will replace No Child Left Behind with new policies that will return greater control and flexibility to states and local school districts. Senator Collins was appointed to serve on the Conference Committee by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“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 was honored to serve on the conference committee for this important education legislation and successfully advocate for the retention of two provisions I authored in the Senate bill: an extension of the critically important Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) and authorization for an Innovative Assessment and Accountability pilot program. This bipartisan legislation will give students and teachers in Maine, and across the country, the tools, resources, and increased flexibility they need for success and I urge both chambers of Congress to take up and pass this bill.”
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.