House Passes Education Reform Legislation

From: Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel
Vol. 15:09

Today, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, by a vote of 218-213. The bill passed along party lines, with no Democrats supporting the measure.

As we reported earlier, this bill represents the most significant progress made toward amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act since the law was last reformed in 2001. That law, the No Child Left Behind Act, expired in 2006, and efforts to work on the law since have failed. Should it become law, H.R. 5 would alter significantly the role of the U.S. Department of Education in setting and funding public education programming in the United States. Most specifically, the bill eliminates the Core Academic Subjects definition under Title I of the law that has been a bedrock principle of education policy in the United States, and in its place provides grants directly to states and local education agencies to define and fund policy priorities.

While not taking a position on H.R. 5, NASAA and other arts advocates have long supported the Core Academic Subjects provision because it identifies the arts as a subject eligible for federal funding under Title I.

Despite the success of today’s vote, the chances of this legislation becoming law are in doubt. Earlier this year, the Obama administration issued a Statement of Administration Policyasserting that it would veto the legislation if it were to pass in both chambers. The Senate is considering its own legislation, the Every Child Achieves Act, which has been carefully negotiated between Senate Education Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and the panel’s top Democrat, Patty Murray (D-WA).

Also of note: The House of Representatives is expected to approve the fiscal year 2016 budget for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) very soon; NASAA will send you an alert when that occurs. As of publication, the NEA’s current budget of $146 million is expected to be preserved.