U.S. Senate Passes the Every Child Achieves Act 81-17

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)
Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

The U.S. Senate passed S.1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, on a 81 to 17 vote on Thursday afternoon spending seven days debating the bill.

The concerns addressed by American Principles in Action and others were largely not remedied by the amendment process.  On Wednesday an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) fixed an omission of a key privacy and parental rights protection. Specifically, ECAA had omitted the requirement that the federally dictated statewide standardized tests “do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information.”

Emmett McGroarty, director of education for American Principles in Action said in a released statement on Thursday prior to the final vote, “This is a good start. However, this addresses only one of the severe privacy and data collection problems with ECAA. Much more needs to be done to protect children.”

The U.S. Senate also voted down amendments by U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have affirmed a parent’s right to opt their students out from assessments, and an amendment from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) that would have gutted the federal testing mandate.  Amendments proposed by U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Steve Daines (R-MT) that would have restored more local and state control also failed.

Several education policy experts are not pleased with the bill.

“This proposal does little if anything to restore state and local control of education. Moreover, it sets the stage for increased federal spending in the near future. The amendment included from Sen. Burr to change the funding formula for Title I does so once funding for the Title increases to $17 billion – nearly $3 billion over where it currently stands – likely creating momentum to increase spending in the near-term in order to achieve the funding change,” Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education, at the Heritage Foundation told Truth in American Education.

“The proposal still dictates testing schedules to states, maintains a labyrinth of federal programs, and perpetuates the notion that education dollars are best earmarked for school districts instead of students. It was, and remains, a huge missed opportunity for conservatives to restore dollars and decision-making to those closer situated to students,” Burke added.

“It is unfortunate that civil rights groups seem to think that billions of dollars for the education of low-income children will be useful, when in 50 years, the needle hasn’t moved in reading.  And the needle won’t move, so long as re-authorizations of ESEA allow the bulk of Title I money to be spent on the costs associated with hiring academically underqualified Reading teachers and aides.  Why civil rights groups think that is a quid pro quo, they need to explain to those of us who think low-income children would benefit from academically qualified teachers,” retired University of Arkansas professor of education reform Sandra Stotsky said in a statement made to Truth in American Education.

“I think two things are clear from the bill’s passage. First, it’s clear that politicians don’t feel safe rolling back the federal role in education. Some of them tell us they believe in this, but most of them don’t actually do it. So voters need to start holding them accountable, with all the usual means: Asking cranky questions in townhalls, calling their offices when votes like this come up, and primarying them if they don’t respond,” Joy Pullmann, education research fellow at the Heartland Institute, told Truth in American Education.

“Second, I also think it’s clear that politicians feel safe ignoring their constituents’ desires on education. Look, both the left and the right want testing reduced and real data privacy protections enacted. These are bipartisan issues. But our bipartisan leaders aren’t listening. They should pay for that. If they don’t, well, it’s clear they’re right: That voters don’t really care about education, so we’re going to let the kleptocracy continue to run everything from Washington,” Pullmann added.

The roll call of the vote:

YEAs —81
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Baldwin (D-WI)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boozman (R-AR)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burr (R-NC)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Capito (R-WV)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Coats (R-IN)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Enzi (R-WY)
Ernst (R-IA)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Franken (D-MN)
Gardner (R-CO)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lankford (R-OK)
Leahy (D-VT)
Manchin (D-WV)
Markey (D-MA)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Perdue (R-GA)
Peters (D-MI)
Portman (R-OH)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rounds (R-SD)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Toomey (R-PA)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —17
Blunt (R-MO)
Booker (D-NJ)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Flake (R-AZ)
Lee (R-UT)
Moran (R-KS)
Murphy (D-CT)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Shelby (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warren (D-MA)
Not Voting – 2
Graham (R-SC) Nelson (D-FL)

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