Measure Restores Greater State & Local Control, Ends Common Core Mandate, Includes Cochran-Backed Initiatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today voted to send the White House a sweeping bipartisan education reform bill that would return more control over education policy to the states and prevent the federal government from imposing education standards, like Common Core, on states.

The Senate voted 85 to 12 on Wednesday to give final approval to the Every Student Succeeds Act (S.1177), a bill reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The bill, which effectively replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, would give states additional tools to improve low-performing schools. This measure passed the House of Representatives on Dec. 2 with broad bipartisan support, and the president has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

“This legislation will move control of our schools back toward states and local communities, as it should be,” Cochran said. “It is important that Congress protect the prerogative of states to set educational standards that best suit their students.”

“The Every Student Succeeds Act will eliminate burdensome federal mandates set by the Department of Education without congressional approval and will provide each state with the flexibility to determine what works best for them,” he said.

While S.1177 requires states to adopt academic standards for math, reading, science, and other subjects the state chooses, the legislation restores state control over setting these standards. In December 2013, Cochran introduced legislation to prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from linking the adoption of its endorsed standards to eligibility for federal funding.

The final agreement also retains several other Cochran-sponsored provisions that were approved in the original Senate-passed bill. These include a unanimously-approved amendment written by Cochran and Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) to all authorize the use of federal funds to improve and modernize school libraries.

The bill also keeps a provision included by Cochran and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) to ensure that the unique aspects of rural education are considered by the U.S. Department of Education. Specifically, this provision should help bolster participation of rural educators in policy development.