Bennet, Senate Pass Landmark Bill to Fix No Child Left Behind

Reduces Federal Overreach of NCLB

Increases Support for Teachers, Promotes Innovation in the Classroom

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a former superintendent of the Denver Public School District, today joined 80 senators to pass a long overdue fix to No Child Left Behind. The bill, also known as the Every Child Achieves Act, reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the chief federal law addressing K-12 education. It reforms many of the policies from No Child Left Behind, the previous version of the bill, while maintaining several key policies that have proved successful.

"Passing this bill has been a long time coming, and it's encouraging we were able to do it with overwhelming bipartisan support," Bennet said. "Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray deserve credit for their leadership throughout this process."

As superintendent of the Denver school district, Bennet was often on the receiving end of well-intentioned but misguided policies coming down from Washington. As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, he helped write the bill, securing dozens of provisions during the committee's consideration of the bill and during the debate on the Senate floor. Bennet's work on the bill stems from his time spent as superintendent and from dozens of conversations with parents, students, teachers, and administrators from around the state.

"The updates we passed in this bill address many of the problems with No Child Left Behind, while maintaining its strengths," Bennet added. "Part of what we've been trying to do is bring the lessons learned in Denver - from families, principals, teachers, schools, and kids - and now schools that we've had a chance to visit all over the state. The views of Coloradans are threaded throughout this bill. We've worked to re-empower those closest to our kids to ensure decisions are being made by those who know them best. And we've supported new opportunities for teachers and schools to expand the innovative strategies that are helping kids learn and grow in the classroom. While this bill isn't perfect, it includes many necessary tools to help our states, school districts, principals, and teachers to ensure our kids succeed."

Bennet's chief priorities focused on improving equity and addressing inequalities for teachers and students, reducing federal overreach while ensuring kids from low-income families receive access to a great education, encouraging innovation to meet our most persistent education challenges, and supporting rural schools to meet their unique needs in the face of limited resources.

Studies show that teachers are the single most important factor in school in ensuring a child is receiving a great education. To that end, Bennet worked to include support for teachers to prepare and grow in their profession. Among the provisions he secured is a measure to create new leadership opportunities for teachers within schools, such as career ladders, mentorships, and academic coaching. Along with this provision, he secured a separate measure providing access to higher-quality teacher development that has proven to help teachers grow. He also included support for teacher and school leader residency programs modeled off of the Denver Teacher Residency Program.

One of the chief complaints about No Child Left Behind was its prescriptive, top-down approach to helping failing schools. Bennet worked to ensure the bill reduced federal overreach and promoted state-driven accountability systems, while ensuring we take steps to close the achievement gap and provide all kids with a quality education. While maintaining annual assessments and requiring state to break down that data to identify and track achievement gaps for different subgroups of students, Bennet passed an amendment to help reduce the burden of data reporting requirements for local school districts.

Often the strategies proven to help students succeed are being developed in the classroom by innovative teachers. Bennet secured several measures to dedicate funding to help schools and districts expand those strategies to more classrooms and schools. Elements of Bennet's English Learning and Innovation Act and updates to the Charter School Program he championed were included in the bill. He also secured measures based on his bipartisan Social Impact Partnership Act to support early childhood education.

For a full list of provisions Bennet secured in the Every Child Achieves Act, CLICK HERE.

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