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Senate and House Address Summer Learning in ESEA Debates

Monday, July 13, 2015  
Posted by: Tyler Mattingly
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Last week saw long-awaited activity from both the House and Senate on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind). These debates raise some new opportunities and potential threats for summer learning.

Here are a few highlights from the past week:

  • The full Senate began debate of the “Every Child Achieves Act” (S.1177), which was a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate HELP committee a few weeks ago. The bill brought to the floor includes an amendment from Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) to preserve the 21st Century Community Learning Center program and its focus on summer and afterschool programs.
  • Senator Boxer and Senator Franken spoke on the floor to praise the Murkowski amendment and reiterate the importance of the 21st CCLC program in their states and across the country.
  • Some additional amendments proposed during debate this week could impact summer learning:
    • Sen. Casey (D-PA) filed an amendment that allows states to partner with organizations in order to help students achieve a well-rounded education by boosting instruction in arts, civics, environmental studies, financial literacy, and other subjects.
    • Sen. Murray (D-WA) filed an amendment to improve state coordination of  early learning services.
    • Sen. Paul (R-KY) filed an amendment to support use of evidence-based practices that prevent juvenile delinquency.
    • Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) filed an amendment to improve literacy and college and career readiness through school library programs.
    • Several amendments were filed in support of community schools.
  • The House of Representatives passed the “Student Success Act” (H.R. 5) on July 8, after minimal debate. This bill eliminates 21st CCLC funding and replaces it with a block grant allowing local education agencies to use a single pot of money to support afterschool and summer learning programs as well as programs during the school day that support student well-being. Unlike the bipartisan Senate process that went into the Every Child Achieves Act, the Student Success Act is only supported by Republicans and has not been jointly crafted or thoroughly debated.

The Senate reconvenes Monday afternoon to resume debate on S. 1177.

Once the Senate passes their bill, the two chambers will then have to conference and reconcile the two different bills. Staff from the House and Senate committees will lead that work over the coming weeks, potentially setting the stage for a conference this fall and a final vote this winter.

Stay tuned to the Summer Times, like us on Facebook and follow @summerlearning on Twitter for future updates!

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