Burnsville rep. to chair No Child Left Behind conference committee

Published 10:14 am Friday, July 31, 2015

By Christopher Magan

St. Paul Pioneer Press

At least one Minnesota congressman will be at the center of the coming rewrite of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

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Rep. John Kline, R-Burnsville, was named Thursday to chair a House-Senate conference committee to draft compromise legislation replacing the public school funding and oversight law signed by President George W. Bush in 2002.

Kline, who also leads the House Education and Workforce Committee, was chief sponsor of the bill passed by the House earlier in July. The Senate also passed its version of the legislation this month.

“There is a lot of work to do in the coming months, and I am confident we will be able to craft a bicameral education bill that reduces the federal role, restores local control, and empowers parents and education leaders,” Kline said in a statement.

Kline’s bill passed the House without Democratic support and has key differences from the Senate version. That bill received Democratic backing, including support from Minnesota Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who will be Kline’s Senate counterpart, signaled he wanted the conference committee to move quickly. Congress is nearing its monthlong August recess and could begin the conference process when it returns after Labor Day.

“Fifty million children and 3.5 million teachers deserve to get a result, and we should be able to achieve that this fall,” Alexander said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who helped Alexander write the Senate bill, said she hopes that bipartisanship will lay the groundwork for a bill President Barack Obama will sign.

“As we head toward conference, I look forward to continuing to improve the final bill to make sure all students have access to a good education, regardless of where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make,” Murray said in a statement.

The No Child Left Behind law has been up for re-authorization since 2008, but Congress has been unable to reach a consensus. It is the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides federal funding for public schools.

The law was first approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and has been updated about every five years until Bush signed the current law in 2002.

No Child Left Behind greatly expanded the role of the federal government in public schools in an effort to ensure every student receive equal academic opportunities. The law required states to set academic standards, routinely test student proficiency and report the results.

—Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.