Murkowski: Every Child Achieves Act Undoes NCLB, Addresses Alaskan Frustrations

Senator: Reform Bill Empowers States, Schools, Parents, and Educators

With the U.S. Senate debating the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) – the long-awaited fix of the flawed No Child Left Behind law – Senator Lisa Murkowski took to the floor of the Senate to stress its advantages for Alaskans.  Senator Murkowski had a hand in the design of the bill, serving on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee that worked together on the legislation and passed it 22-0 out of committee to the full Senate.  (For Murkowski’s view on the committee process, read her recent op-ed.)

In her floor speech, Murkowski focused on one high priority—the fact that the ECAA restores more power to states and to local schools, teachers, and parents—noting the controversial one-size-fits all mandates like ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’ and ‘Highly Qualified Teacher’ were done away with.  She responded to concerns that the bill perpetuates Common Core. 

Senator Murkowski also outlined some of the provisions she was able to achieve in the bill for Alaskans—maintaining afterschool programs, a greater voice for Alaska Native communities in the education of their children, fixing Impact Aid for rural Alaska’s school districts, supporting Native language immersion schools, and fixing the No Child Left Behind Act.

(Senator Murkowski explains the Every Child Achieves Act on Senate floor – Click for entire speech.)

On Common Core(click link for audio/video)

“Alaskans are concerned that the Every Child Achieves Act does not do enough to return local control to schools.  That it perpetuates, somehow, the Common Core Standards.  In fact, the Every Child Achieves Act specifically and expressly prohibits the Secretary from having any authority to—and I quote, ‘mandate, direct, control, coerce, or exercise any direction or supervision over any of the challenging State academic standards adopted or implemented by a State.’”

On overall Alaskan frustrations: (click link for audio/video)

“Whether you’re an educator, you’re students, parents or tribes, nobody was happy with No Child Left Behind.  The one-size-fits all mandate, poor tribal consultation and lack of state control over our children’s education were clearly not working.”

Benefits and Alaskan advantages of the Every Child Achieves Act:

  • The U.S. Education Secretary will no longer be able to impose Common Core or any other academic standards on states.  Common Core has been such a policy failure that a majority of states received a waiver from participating, including Alaska.  But the Every Child Achieves Act removes the threat of it ever returning and interfering with Alaska’s teachers.
  • Requires states and school districts to consult and engage with Alaska to implement education programs that serve Native students in order to meet their cultural, language, and education needs. 
  • Establishes a new grant program to support the creation, improvement, and expansion of Native language immersion schools, in students learn their reading, writing, math, science, and other subjects through their ancestral languages.
  • Eliminates technical red tape that made it nearly impossible for Alaska’s rural school districts to claim Impact Aid dollars to which they are entitled.
  • Helps working parents and keeps kids safe after school by making sure the 21st Century Community Learning Center program that sustains many afterschool programs was maintained and improved.