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Clinton Praises Rewrite of No Child Left Behind, Sees ESSA as a Boost to Charter Schools, Pre-K and High Standards

By Carolyn Phenicie | December 10, 2015

Photo: Getty Images
Washington, D.C.
Hillary Clinton Thursday praised the just-signed No Child Left Behind rewrite, applauding its provisions on preschool funding, school accountability, enhanced teacher development, and expansion of charter schools.
The statement, released Dec. 9 in conjunction with the Senate’s overwhelming vote to approve the bill, could hint at where a Clinton Education Department would land in implementing the new bill. The bulk of the work in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law Thursday, will happen during the 2016-2017 school year, a timeframe that will bridge the administrations of both Obama and his successor.
Effective implementation of the new law will require commitment and cooperation by states, schools, parents and teachers, Clinton said.
“It will also require that the federal government continue to play a critical role in working towards an America where a world-class education is available to every child. That includes overseeing the design and implementation of effective state accountability systems. It also requires that funding be provided for the promises laid out in this legislation,” she said.
Most of Clinton’s shout-outs for specific aspects of the bill, things like preschool funding, “a better balance on testing,” and a continued federal role in accountability, were predictable. The candidate’s praise for the bill’s support of charter schools, though, is notable in light of comments she made last month that landed her in hot water with charter advocates.
Clinton in an interview with Roland Martin said charters don’t take the “hardest-to-teach” students and “if they do, they don’t keep them.” (Read our exclusive interview with Roland Martin about Clinton’s comments on charters, as well as our fact-check of Clinton’s claims about selective enrollment)
In response to the uproar that followed the Martin conversation, Clinton’s campaign quickly published a blog post noting the former secretary of state’s long-standing support of charter schools while clarifying that charters should be held accountable and elaborating on her claims about the most difficult to teach students.
In this week’s ESSA statement, Clinton said the new legislation includes “critical resources” for a variety of things including “expand[ing] high-quality public charter schools.”
Meanwhile the Republican presidential contenders seemed far less enthused about the bipartisan legislation.
Sen. Ted Cruz in a statement issued through his Senate office said the new law “unfortunately continues to propagate the large and ever-growing role of the federal government in our education system—the same federal government that sold us failed top-down standards like Common Core.”
He said the compromise was worse than the initial bill the Senate passed in July. Cruz in particular dinged the measure for not including provisions that would have allowed some Title I funding for low-income children to follow them as they move among schools and that would have given parents greater authority to opt out of tests, Cruz said.   
Cruz did not vote on final approval of the compromise, but did vote against cutting off debate on the measure Tuesday.
Sen. Rand Paul voted against final passage of the compromise.
Sen. Marco Rubio has not voted on the measure since the Senate passed its measure in July; he voted no.   
Other presidential campaigns have been largely silent on the bill – perhaps not a surprise when two-thirds of swing-state voters report they haven’t heard any discussion of education in this election.
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