WASHINGTON — For the first time since No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s signature education law, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support a dozen years ago, a bill seeking to rewrite the law came to the floor of the House for debate on Thursday, dividing legislators along party lines.
Lawmakers tussled over the role of the federal government in public education, with Republicans calling for a return of control over curriculum standards, testing and spending to states and districts. Democrats, by contrast, assailed the proposed bill, saying that it reduced financing designated for the students most at risk, failed to set high standards and watered down efforts to hold schools accountable for student performance.
Both parties agreed that No Child Left Behind, which was signed into law in 2002, is in dire need of revision. States and districts have struggled to meet a deadline enshrined in that law, requiring that all students become proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014.
But despite repeated efforts over the past six years to reauthorize the law, an amendment of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act that governs how federal funds are spent in public schools, Congress has so far failed to get a bill further than the committee