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House Democrats Plan to Offer Their Own NCLB Rewrite

House Democrats will try—though likely fail—to replace a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act that the House education committee is marking up Wednesday with a version of their own that includes early education.

The measure, which will be offered as a substitute amendment, is a complete departure from the bill Republicans are slated to clear through committee Wednesday and then through the full House the last week in February.

Notably, the Democratic proposal would create a new title for early-childhood education that would provide funding through a formula to states willing to match the amount. The federal dollars would be targeted to 4-year-olds from families earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The proposal is essentially dead on arrival, but there are a few tidbits worth pointing out. In relation to the Republican bill, the Democratic substitute would:

  • Keep an annual testing requirement, but allow states to eliminate low-quality tests;
  • Require assessments to be based on student growth, not proficiency;
  • Require states to establish accountability systems that set performance, growth, and graduation targets for all students, including subgroups of students;
  • Eliminate the Title I portability language;
  • Alter the Title I formula to include actual teacher salaries in state aid calculations;
  • Restore maintenance of effort (which requires school districts and states to keep up their own spending at a certain level in order to tap federal dollars);
  • Restore "High Quality Teachers" (which means they must show they are competent in the subject they are teaching, hold a bachelor's degree, and be certified in their states);
  • Require states to address equitable distribution of high-quality teachers;
  • Restore separate streams of funding for migrant students, neglected and delinquent students, English-learners, and rural students;
  • Revise Title IV for out of school programs and expanded learning time programs that put a priority on low-performing and low-income schools;
  • Prevent schools from using restraint and seclusion as forms of punishment;
  • Set minimum standards for concussion safety;
  • Require criminal and child-abuse background checks of all school employees.

Why bother reading a Democratic substitute amendment that's just going to get shot down? You never know when the electoral landscape will change, so it's worth taking a look at what Democratic leaders would do on K-12 if they had their way.

You can read more about the measure here:

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