GOP senators introduce rewrite of No Child to make it more flexible

I am about to get on a conference call on a new Senate initiative to fix the federal No Child Left Behind Act. But here is the official statement about a series of GOP bills designed to increase the state role and decrease the federal one. Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson is among the sponsors.

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)— all members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee — today announced they are introducing a series of education bills to “fix” No Child Left Behind.

The senators said that for the nation’s 100,000 public schools, the legislation would end the federal mandates through which Washington, D.C., decides which schools and teachers are succeeding or failing.

According to the senators, much has happened over the last 10 years and it is time to transfer responsibility back to states and communities. Since No Child Left Behind was enacted in 2002, 44 states have adopted common core academic standards, two groups of states are developing common tests for those standards, and more than 40 states are developing common principles for holding schools accountable for student achievement.

The senators said their legislation would maintain No Child Left Behind requirements for reporting student performance in reading, math, and science.

The legislation would address what the senators said were major problems with the law by giving states and local school districts greater flexibility to:

-Improve state accountability systems

·-Improve teacher and principal professional development programs

- Consolidate federal education programs to give state and local education leaders more freedom in meeting local needs

- Expand the number of charter schools

ALEXANDER: “These bills are about getting Washington, D.C., out of the business of deciding which schools and teachers are succeeding and which are failing. America needs better state and local report cards, not a national school board.”

BURR: “Providing our students with a quality education is the key to their future success and to the continued competitiveness of our nation in the global economy. However, a one-size-fits-all approach designed in and mandated from Washington, D.C., does not work when it comes to education. States and local communities are the best makers of educational decisions and must be empowered with the flexibility to design and fund locally-determined programs and initiatives that meet their varied and unique needs to provide an education that is in the best interest of their students.”

ISAKSON: “No Child Left Behind has built a foundation upon which many children, including students from low-income families, are performing at higher levels in the areas of math and reading. Although we have made progress since its implementation almost a decade ago, it is very important that we take the next steps to continue improving education in America. By reauthorizing No Child Left Behind with the important changes contained in our legislation, we will be making a critical investment in the future of our children and our country.”

KIRK: “We should reform No Child Left Behind by ensuring parents’ right to know how schools are performing while using more common sense measurements. Most importantly, we should expand parents’ access to higher quality, innovative Charter schools where their children have greater opportunities to go to college and succeed in the global economy.”

The senators said the bills accomplish the overall goal of infusing excellence into the nation’s public schools by challenging states to do better, and helping states raised standards in an environment where they are not told what to do by Washington, but are instead free to set, and meet, those standards themselves.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Amendments Act of 2011 establishes a national “college- and career-readiness” goal with accountability systems developed by states without interference by the federal government on state standards or assessments. It eliminates the Washington-based Adequate Yearly Progress system and asks states to identify their lowest-performing 5 percent of schools. It also frees to states to establish their own teacher licensure and certification requirements; maintains public reporting requirements; and dramatically simplifies the Title 1 State plans to reduce paperwork and federal interference.

-Introduced by Senators Isakson and Alexander

The Teacher and Principal Improvement Act of 2011 helps states and local school districts prepare, train, and recruit effective teachers and principals to improve student achievement. States and local school districts would be allowed to develop their own teacher and principal evaluation systems, as well as their own needs assessments to better pinpoint professional development for teachers and principals. It maintains strong reporting requirements to empower parents and the community. It authorizes the Teacher Incentive Fund to allow states and school districts to compete to find ways to pay teachers and principals more for teaching well. It reduces paperwork through simplified Title II State plans.

-Introduced by Senators Alexander and Isakson

The Empowering Local Education Decision Making Act of 2011 streamlines 59 programs into two flexible foundational block grants. It puts states and local school districts in charge by allowing them the flexibility to choose the programs and initiatives that meet their unique needs. Creates the “Fund for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning” and the “Safe and Healthy Students Block Grant.”

-Introduced by Senator Burr, Alexander and Isakson

The Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act 2011 modernizes the Charter School Program by encouraging the expansion of successful charter school models, streamlines the program to reduce administrative burdens and improve funding opportunities, allows successful charter school management organizations and local education agencies to apply directly to the federal government, and encourages sharing of best practices between charter schools and traditional public schools.

-Introduced by Senator Kirk, Alexander and Burr

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

51 comments Add your comment


September 14th, 2011
11:49 am

I trust NOTHING coming from the crazy republicans/tea party!!

Cindy Lutenbacher

September 14th, 2011
11:57 am

Interesting, but I wonder what devil lurks in the details. More standardized testing? After all, we know that the corporations and elites who pushed through NCLB have garnered many billions from the one-size-fits-all approach of standardized testing. Think the above lawmakers would go against the corporate wishes?

And I wonder where Mr. Isakson gets his information that NCLB set a foundation for many children to improve math and reading skills. Really? Has he also calculated what was lost, how many children were harmed, and how many terrific teachers were driven from the classroom, all courtesy of NCLB?


September 14th, 2011
12:31 pm

Why not just cancel the program?

Meanwhile back in the real world as noted by this column earlier:

“The average SAT score for Georgia’s public, private and home school students was 1445, down from 1451 last year. Critical reading scores fell 3 points, math scores dropped 2 points and writing was down 1 point.”

“The national average SAT score was 1500, also down from last year. The highest possible score is 2400.”

Beverly Fraud

September 14th, 2011
12:36 pm

Why can’t we just bring back Rod Paige to fix everything? We know what a great job he did in Houston.
If Congress would just endorse a bi-partisan effort with Paige and Arne Duncan, is there any doubt that every child would be in the top ten percentile by 2014?

Rick in Grayson

September 14th, 2011
12:48 pm

How about they make it the “Not every Child can make it in college” bill.

For about 35% of these children, they would be better off with very basic math and language skills along with more vocational training. Students can make a choice to go for the college track in 9th grade or they go to another school to sample different vocations that gets progressively more specific as they choose one.

Once Again

September 14th, 2011
1:09 pm

Ah yes, tweaking rather repealing. One thing you can always count on with most republicans (Ron Paul the obvious exception) is that they will always safe face and there is generally never a government program that they really want to get rid of completely. Just more government failure.


September 14th, 2011
1:49 pm

Sounds like the beginning of new ideas and talking about fixing this mess. AND..I am a tea party kinda person…..NOT GRAZY, but a conservative, retired person who worries about the future. I would not call you crazy because you have an opinion. That attitude has gotten us here. We need to at least congratulate this group for beginning. I like the idea of turning much of the responsibility back to states. I also like the idea of college or career track….that has worked well in many areas. It is time to look at things differently, especially now with little money to throw at the problem. I bet all of us can find some things we like to build a consensus.


September 14th, 2011
1:52 pm

Georgia is ranked 40th in the Best Educated Index, and Tennessee is right behind them at 41. That’s out of 50. See – education statistics. Maybe these two guys should focus on why their constituents are among the most poorly educated in the US, and have been for generations. (Hint: it has nothing to do with national education policy).

These guys need to familiarize themselves with what the states ranked 1 – 10 in this index are doing to educate their children, and pass laws that duplicate their practices.

Former Teacher, and planning to stay that way

September 14th, 2011
1:59 pm

Rhetoric, rhetoric, rhetoric. Why introduce a bill to “fix” a law? Why not introduce a bill to scrap the law, and start over? All the bureaucrats seems able to do is slap fixes on things, and they neither fix nor kill the law; they only make it EVEN WORSE.

Oh Intown Writer...

September 14th, 2011
2:06 pm

How will this help EIP-related kids -?
Some of the most bitter complaints i hear from teachers and parents is NCLB blindly applied to kids for whom the real end goal is living semi-independently in a group home…

Beverly Fraud

September 14th, 2011
2:41 pm

The integrity of those who are pushing for these changes is above reproach, much like that of educational leaders such as Beverly Hall, Rod Paige, and Michelle Rhee.

Therefore, it is not in line with being a good American to question their tactics.

Shameful really, to question those public servants who give of themselves so selflessly. Just shameful.


September 14th, 2011
3:54 pm

Eyenstine ; now wait a minute that makes way to much sense. We cant do things like that in GA, next thing you’ll want is those education unions setting up house here and we aint gonna have that ; no way.


September 14th, 2011
3:55 pm

The only way to improve NCLB is to Kill it off. This improvement will end up just creating even more problems.

Unfunded pension

September 14th, 2011
4:00 pm

On the day that ga has teachers unions, public schools will see funding go into reverse. I am inclined to vote against the renewal of SPLOST and if there were unions i would vote for real reductions in spending


September 14th, 2011
4:09 pm

Putting the states in charge? Isn’t that like putting the fox in charge of the hen house? States will never hold themselves sufficiently accountable. I agree some reform is needed (100% pass rate is not obtainable), but I’m not liking the sound of this approach.

Very Passionate About Our Schools

September 14th, 2011
4:40 pm

NCLB needs to be completely dumped. A republican who has about as much sense as a Pre-K put it into effect and his Republican puppets are fixing it? Coming from a Republican it can only be worse and certainly not in the best interests of our children and teachers.


September 14th, 2011
5:24 pm

No Child will go away but come back with another name, College and Career Readiness. The CRCT will go away but will come back in the form of several standardized tests throughout the year where it will be the teachers who will be graded how well the students know the standards. That will be the teachers’ evaluations. If your students don’t make progress throughout the year – buh bye!


September 14th, 2011
5:27 pm

Both TN and Ga and many other southern states need to figure out why thye are always behind other states. It has been that way for years. There are good teachers in both and plenty of good students. Is it culture? The lack of progress and poverty after the Civil War? Lack of support for education? General resentment toward athority? It is curious. Keep in mind I am asking this as a proud Georgian. But this has been consistant since I was in school in the dark ages.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

September 14th, 2011
6:03 pm


You’re on to something.

Oh, Please!

September 14th, 2011
6:16 pm

Haven’t we learned anything? The FEDERAL goverment won’t allow this. Just like with their failed Immigration policies, they will swoop down and tell the states (Georgia) what they CAN and CANNOT DO regarless of what we try to do!


September 14th, 2011
6:19 pm

@ oldtimer

Most of the people that live in Georgia are not native to GA or even the South for that matter. The migration and the invasion South mean anything?

ATL Teacher

September 14th, 2011
6:28 pm

NCLB has not improved anything. It has proved detrimental to special education students, authentic assessments, and parents knowledge about the progress of their child. Anyone who has been in the classroom since it’s inception knows what I’m talking about. Why are politicians making these decisions anyway? We need a collaboration of educators from diverse populations and backgrounds to assist in this legislation!

another comment

September 14th, 2011
6:43 pm

Of course this is coming from Johnny Issacson, of Johnny and Susan Issacson who have their two children enrolled in Woodward Academy for the low tuition of $22,000 or so for each little darling a year. Then they have “the Help” their black Nanny of 12+ years drive them back and forth the 20+ miles from their East Cobb home every day. Even the prestigous East Cobb School’s were not good enough for Johnny and Susan’s little ones.

Many of you would never guess that Johnny has school aged children, looks too old. But yes he does. I heard it from a friend of the “Help”.

Maybe we could believe this would be more favorable to those of us with children in public schools if it was sponsered by politicians that actually put their children in public schools.

No Thanks

September 14th, 2011
6:44 pm

It does nothing to address the unrealistic adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals. Yawn.

Active in Cherokee

September 14th, 2011
6:44 pm

Why do they insist on attaching the ‘Charter’ schools initiative to this? Rather than specifically saying ‘charter’ schools why not just designate easier methods of approval for ’school choice’? Charters seem to be today’s fad but school choice has been and always will be needed via magnets schools, Vo-Tech schools, and STEM schools just to name a few.

On a separate note – how does this Legislation relate to the RTTT initiative? Some things seem go go against it while others reinforce the principles.

EdTrust -man

September 14th, 2011
7:22 pm

There’s only one way to stop the madness and that is to totally “sack” NCLB. The law has greatly reduced the quality of education that our children receive. Public school districts focus all year on teaching to the test and meeting other asinine measures the NCLB uses as a performance indicator. The greatest damage occurs at the elementary level where children desperately need a well rounded, child-centered (including recess) curriculum as opposed to vacuous “urban reform initiatives,” pushed off on district leaders by ruthless vendors.

The other damning dimension of NCLB is the appeal it has for attracting sleazy opportunists such as Beverly Hall and Kathy Augustine who have brought an indelible stain to our entire community by the systematic, deeply entrenched bullying of APS staff until they “delivered.” The ongoing cover-up of this national scandal spearheaded by Augustine will continue to bring disgrace to virtually all area educators. Even graver, institutions of higher learning and employers will view APS student accomplishments through an understandably tainted lens.

The word is out – High quality teachers, administrators and middle class families will increasingly to avoid such traps. The death knell has sounded for this foolish, punitive approach to education reform.

I agree with @ Beverly Fraud , that this hair brained idiocy belongs with such infamous profiteers as:

Rod Paige
Michele Rhee
Beverly Hall

Ad Naseum

September 14th, 2011
7:43 pm

@ another comment

At least the Issacson’s “Help” is not an Illegal Alien. What’s your point? Wealth envy prehaps?

@ another comment

September 14th, 2011
8:00 pm

If you are going to spread rumors from “the help” about someone, the least you could do is spell the names of the “accused” properly. It is Isakson, not Issacson. :)


September 14th, 2011
8:32 pm

I have not commented in a while, but I do enjoy reading the blog. This is a bit off topic, but AJC has stooped to new lows when it comes to their bylines: “Slain mother had no ears”- very tacky- very disrespectful-

another comment

September 14th, 2011
9:29 pm

My point is Issacson and the other lawmakers that stick the public schools with these ridiculous burdens, of Laws, should be willing to send their children to Public School as well. How do you think I found out about Isaccson’s kids going to Woodward from my Nanny!.Only thing is I am not a hypocrite lawmaker.


September 14th, 2011
9:30 pm

“It maintains strong reporting requirements to empower parents and the community.” And I have some swamp land to sell you.

Struggling Teacher but Proud

September 15th, 2011
6:02 am

Johnny Issakson is not a proponent of public education. He is a proponent of free-tickets and charter schools. This is certainly the way to weaken the public education. Charter schools are for students who parents won’t/can’t pay the tuition for a private school. Free-tickets are a cheaper and easier way to avoid fixing the real problems in a school system by allowing “choice” to transfer onto another place. Issakson and the Republicans want to privatize public education. That’s just wrong.

[...] more atAtlanga Journal Constitution. Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed Opower and Honeywell [...]


September 15th, 2011
7:45 am

I am no fan of NCLB, but I am frightened by the prospect of Georgia (with its sham of assessments in the form of the Graduation Tests and EOCTs) or Dekalb County (prioritizing jobs over education) now determining success and needs.

Dekalb already pays way too much for an ineffective professional development program. I can already envision even more wasted money on embarrsssingly presented, outdated workshops that do nothing to “improve education” (whatever that even means anymore).

Here are some “common sense” approaches: 1) For every five Dekalb children reading below grade level, eliminate an administrative post at the central office and create a new reading teacher position at the school level. 2) Do away with DOLA (How many students fail classes for consecutive school years, but somehow manage to learn these skills for DOLA and then unlearn them the next year?).
3) Require all administrators-at central office or in the school building-to serve as substitutes three times a year while teachers take professional development classes-in their fields not “education”-organized by colleges and universities. 4) Require all administrators responsible for teaching and learning decisions to have taught a core subject for at least three years (isn’t that the requirement to be a mentor teacher for student teachers). 5) Create a curriculum that reflects the needs of the students (consider the most recent report about SAT scores).

God Bless the Teacher!

September 15th, 2011
8:35 am

@ Beverly Fraud – “If Congress would just endorse a bi-partisan effort with Paige and Arne Duncan, is there any doubt that every child would be in the top ten percentile by 2014?”

Every child can’t be in the top 10%. Only 10% of the student population can be in the top 10%. No matter what changes take place, nor how students progress and/or mastery of content is measured, there will always be a certain percentage who score below what is deemed acceptable by policy makers. If more students achieve at higher levels, the bar will be raised. Great is never going to be good enough.

God Bless the Teacher!

September 15th, 2011
8:36 am

…that should be student progress…


September 15th, 2011
8:52 am

It’s been said before and I’ll say it again….. Eyenstine’s link brings up the best educated states – states that tend to have strong teacher’s unions – states where teachers have control of their profession. States that are at the bottom have teachers who are dictated to via legislators who haven’t spent a day in a classroom in 30 or more years.


September 15th, 2011
9:00 am

Break out the e-mails. If everyone on this blog would write Isakson a letter, it likely won’t change his mind, but he still needs to hear the truth from his constituency.


September 15th, 2011
9:17 am

Why not get the federal government totaqlly out of the School business,dump the teachers union and tenure, cut the atheletic programs, make parents responsible for having their wonderful darlings clean, fed, rested, homework done and ready to learn…gee a novel idea that parents are responsible..but nooo people like Johnny think they can dictate and we see how well that works

Michael Moore

September 15th, 2011
9:18 am

Bad news for Georgia. This is one state that has thrown open the state’s education doors to the federal government and put up a sign that says: “Give us your money and just tell us what you want us to do.” Left to its own devices this state is clueless when it comes to education.

teacher who cares

September 15th, 2011
9:53 am

Why does it always have to be politicians or business people who write the standards/regulations for education? When will educators be allowed to determine what mandates are best for students and schools….

November 6, 2012

September 15th, 2011
10:01 am

Well, it’s a start; however, I will not be satisfied until states are no longer tied to the stupid regulations of a federal bureaucracy gone amok……Full “States Rights” should be our ultimate goal with a much, much, much smaller federal influence in our lives.

Richard Woods

September 15th, 2011
1:53 pm

Why not just abolish the federal department of education and return complete control of education back to the states? I guess reading the U.S. Constitution would be too much to ask of our politicians.


September 15th, 2011
3:28 pm

Unfortuantely, these guys can’t just scrap NCLB. Why? Well, just think about how that plays in an election. “they don’t care about education” “they only care that the top is educated; damn the poor” Face it, the only way to improve this mess is to alter NCLB and then later phase it out.

Good Mother

September 15th, 2011
3:40 pm

I trust the federal government far more than the APS board of education. I would rather they run the school district than the lying, thieving hipocrites who continue to steal from APS.

To Teacher who cares from Good Mother

September 15th, 2011
3:42 pm

You write “When will educators be allowed to determine what mandates are best for students and schools….”

How about parents? We parents need to have an important part in this process.

To Struggling Teacher but Proud from Good Mother

September 15th, 2011
3:44 pm

You write “Charter schools are for students who parents won’t/can’t pay the tuition for a private school.”

Your own poor grammar is the reason we parents cannot stomach public education. It is for “students WHOSE parents won’t/can’t pay the tuition….” not “WHO” parents…

Your ignorance of basic English is outrageous.

November 6, 2012

September 15th, 2011
4:16 pm

Go get ‘em MOM……does you tutor?

Ole Guy

September 15th, 2011
10:43 pm

Rewriting this political abomination is nothing short of a slap in the face of REAL educators. This typfies the mindset of our lawmakers who don’t know…or haven’t the political courage…to recognize a lemmon of a law, burn it, bury the ashes, and pretend it never existed. Just because this was a piece of legislation ill-conceived by an administration far better suited chopping wood in Texas than running a Country is no reason to hold it in perpetuity.

When you put lipstick on a pig, wadiya got? A PIG. Let’s just slaughter this pig, roast it, and bury it!


September 16th, 2011
2:13 pm

Although the NCLB legislation was passed during the Bush administration, BOTH parties wholeheartedly supported this legislation. Teddy Kennedy was one of the original authors of this bill, along with many others. BOTH parties are at fault for this abominable piece of legislation!!