New Republican Education Bill Passes House, Would Drastically Limit Federal Government's Role in Education

House Republicans passed legislation Friday outlining their plan for national educational policy to replace President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Law. There is not much that is "national" about the national educational policy, however. The Student Success Act reflects the Republican belief that the federal government has no business determining policy for local school systems.

The legislation was passed by a vote of 221-207, with 12 Republicans voting against, and no Democrats voting for it.

Democrats and Republicans agree No Child Left Behind is flawed. However, the two parties don't agree on how better policy would be defined. The Senate committee on education has completed work on its own measure, which also gives states greater flexibility in improving their schools. However, unlike the GOP version, the bill would allow the education secretary to maintain approval power over those proposals.

The House bill would eliminate more than 70 existing elementary and secondary education programs, replacing them with block grant money that states could use as they see best. It would also eliminate No Child Left Behind's testing and teacher evaluation systems, as well as federally mandated actions against poorly performing schools. Instead, local governments would determine their own improvement strategies.

"This bill guts funding for public education, abdicates the federal government's responsibility to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to a quality education, and it walks away from our duty to hold school systems accountable," Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the top Democrat on the education committee and a partner in authoring No Child Left Behind said.

This is likely the last you will hear of the House bill, which has no prospect of moving through the Democratic-led Senate as written. Full Senate consideration of its own bill will likely happen before fall.