It was a substantial day of work for the United States Senate on the “Every Child Achieves Act 2015” (S. 1177). A controversial cloture vote, which shortened remaining time for additional debate on the legislation to just 30 hours, passed this morning, after three schedule delays. To further speed-up deliberations, HELP Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) created a “manager’s package,” that included 21 amendments with bipartisan support, to be voted on “en bloc.” Following this development, roughly 20 additional amendments were left to be debated and voted on, by the end of the week.
While yesterday’s deliberations featured a number of conservative priorities like portability and standardized testing opt-out, today was largely devoted to amendments with strong support among Democrats. Increased accountability plans, mental health support, and climate change education, all failed to gain a needed majority to pass. In addition, the bipartisan Kirk (R-IL)/Baldwin (D-WI)/Reed (D-RI)/(D-OH) Brown “Opportunity Dashboard of Core Resources” amendment, which would have proved a valuable asset in the collection of data on national access to school music, fell just short of the necessary vote, on the floor. Though this was a disappointing turn of events, the 3,000+ letters that were sent to the Senate in support of the amendment made a tremendous impact, and we are enormously grateful for the nationwide support of this issue. Moving forward, the collection of data on the availability of music programs will remain a key “ask” of the music education community, and we are hopeful that its time will come, soon enough. Here is a complete list of amendments (outside of the manager’s package) voted on today.
- Markey (D-MA) Amendment to establish climate change education (NOT AGREED TO)
- Heitkamp (D-ND) Amendment to reinstate grants to improve mental health for students (NOT AGREED TO)
- Kirk (R-IL) Amendment to institute Opportunity Dashboards which would require data reporting from funded schools on access to educational resources, including music and arts education (NOT AGREED TO)
- Murphy (D-CT) Amendment to increase accountability based on local plans (NOT AGREED TO)
Ultimately, a day featuring a cloture vote on ESEA is a good one, and the big picture outlook for this bill continues to be quite positive for music and arts. We are hopeful that a final Senate vote on S. 1177 will occur tomorrow. Thanks again for all of your support of this legislation so far. Stay tuned…
Manager’s Package of Amendments:
- McCain 2111 – Recognizing the athletic and cultural contributions of Jack Johnson to society.
- Bennet – Clarification language allowing shared services
- Ayotte 2145 – Amendment to provide professional training on recognizing mental illness, resources for students with mental illness, and de-escalation tecniques.
- Udall 2149 – Amendment to allow the Bureau of Indian Education to apply for competitive grants
- Feinstein 2150 – Amendment to support bilingual education
- Carper 2151 as modified – Amendment to require plan to support principals and school leaders in underperforming schools
- King 2154 – Amendment to require a study on access to digital learning resources among students and their usage among teachers
- Thune 2155 – Amendment to require a study on Native American Student Suicides, including current response, resources, and recommendations.
- Flake 2157 – Amendment to require increased evaluation of the effectiveness of certain block grants
- Lee 2234 – Amendment to prevent prohibition of children traveling to or from school as approved by a parent and prevent any civil or criminal charges against parents for choosing transportation methods.
- Booker 2170 – Amendment to ensure early childhood grants only fund programs that only use suspensions or expulsions is a serious safety risk is presented.
- Coons 2178 – Amendment to encourage funds used for parent and family engagement
- McCain 2181 – Amendment to allow Title I funds to be used to replicate successful practices in high schools.
- Whitehouse 2185 – Amendment to support innovation in schools
- Blunt 2195 – Allow schools to use funding for mental health for schoolwide mental health programs
- Gillibrand 2216 – Amendment to require a report on cybersecurity education
- Graham 2199 – Amendment to allow Title II funds to be used for entrepreneurship
- Alexander 2201 – Amendment prohibiting state assessments from collecting information on personal or family beliefs or attitudes, or publically disclosing personally identifiable information
- Bennet 2225 – Amendment to include information on assessments as publically available information for parents.
- Booker 2224 – Amendment to assess and improve educator support working conditions.
- Cornyn 2227 – Amendment to reauthorize the Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999
Christopher Woodside, NAfME Assistant Executive Director, 15 July 2015. © National Association for Music Education.