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A look at the new US education law – and the MN rep. who helped get it done


Schools in the United States now have new rules for testing, student and teacher evaluation, and more.

This week, U.S. Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed what is essentially a heavy revision of the No Child Left Behind policy that had been in place since 2002.

The new bill, called the Every Student Succeeds Act, had support of both Democrats and Republicans, and was ushered through with the help of a longtime, influential Minnesota politician (more on that below).

It's essentially the most recent update to 1965's Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the New York Times says, which offers guidelines to how the federal government can interact with the K-12 school system.

The actual bill is more than 1,000 pages long, and covers a dizzying array of detailed topics. But the very top level gist is:

  • There are still federal standards that have to be met for career and college readiness, as well as testing – but states will have the flexibility to design those standards, and use additional factors on top of test scores for evaluation. They'll also have a say in what happens if a school is underperforming, The Atlantic writes.
  • The bill also doesn't allow the federal government to impose broad standards such as the Common Core, the New York Times says.
  • States won't be required to use solely test scores to evaluate teachers, NPR says.

The Atlantic is one of the news outlets breaking down what exactly this means for the education system, if you want some details.

Education Weeks also wraps up the changes – and even gets down into some of the nitty gritty stuff that most others aren't diving into (like how the bill gets rid of a "statistical technique" that allowed schools to fudge the numbers from certain student subgroups.)

A Senate document explains some of the big changes as well.

It passed overwhelmingly in the House (359-64) and Senate (85-12) – every one of Minnesota's U.S. Senators and Representatives voted in favor of it.

MN Rep plays key role

One of those reps is John Kline, a Republican who has served Minnesota 2nd Congressional District since 2003.

He's the chairman of the House's Education and the Workforce Committee. After the House passed the bill earlier this month, he released a statement saying it turned "the page on a flawed law and a failed approach to K-12 education."

He was a lead sponsor of the bill in the House, USA Today says. During Obama's remarks Thursday, he specifically mentioned Kline and three other Congressmen, saying the bill "would not have happened without them."

The Star Tribune called the passage and signing of the bill Kline's "biggest and most lasting political accomplishment."

The paper said Kline and other Congressmen gave a "last-ditch" effort to reach a bipartisan agreement both parties could endorse, which required hours of "closed-door meetings" between staffers.

It's something of a last hurrah for Kline, who is not seeking re-election next year – his seat is viewed as up for grabs, with Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Party candidates all thinking they have a shot.

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