RELEASE:

SENATE APPROVES EDUCATION REFORM LEGISLATION

Cochran-Backed Measure Benefits Rural Schools, Ends Common Core Mandate, Reforms & Reauthorizes ESEA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today supported Senate passage of the Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177), a bill reauthorizing and reforming K-12 education policy.

The bipartisan Senate bill takes a step forward in restoring control of public education to schools and teachers in states and local school districts, ends the Common Core mandate, and offers additional help to states to improve low-performing schools. S.1177 passed the Senate with an 81-17 vote.

“I support this bill because it reaffirms the integral role that states and local communities should play in education. It should help rein in the overly burdensome federal regulatory pressures that have troubled states and school districts in Mississippi and across the country,” said Cochran, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

The measure reforms and reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by ending the federal test-based accountability system from No Child Left Behind and strengthening state and local control over education. Today’s vote marks the end of a two-week Senate debate on the measure.

“I am pleased that the legislation also seeks to address the unique and often overlooked needs of our rural schools. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to tackle the many challenges that we face in educating a new generation of Mississippians,” Cochran said.

The bill includes several Cochran-sponsored provisions, including an amendment adopted by the Senate in a 98-0 vote. The amendment, written by Cochran and Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), would allow the use of federal funds to improve and modernize school libraries. Cochran spoke on the Senate floor in support of his amendment during debate on the bill (LINK: http://bit.ly/1JPu7mX).

Additionally, Cochran worked with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) to include two provisions to ensure that the needs of students in rural areas receive due consideration from the U.S. Department of Education. One would require the Department to increase the consideration and participation of rural schools in its policy-development process. The second provision would add rural schools to the Secretary’s Report Card. Their inclusion would ensure that data on student achievement in rural schools is available to guide policymakers. Over 50 percent of students within public elementary and secondary schools in Mississippi are served by rural schools.

S.1711 was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in April, under the leadership of former U.S. Secretary of Education and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

7/16/15