(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) voted for reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which updates America's federal education policies.
Murray has worked on the legislation for more than three years as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. She used her first-hand experience as an educator, school board member and parent to improve the legislation by offering amendments both in committee and on the Senate floor.
In keeping with 35 years of tradition, the bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support, passing the Senate by a vote of 87 to 10. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.
"Today, I voted for a bill that will help schools across America make progress," Senator Murray said. "This bill is not perfect. I am concerned about its lack of funding, especially for the new testing requirements. But overall, this bill moves our country in the right direction. It increases accountability and flexibility. It maintains support for disadvantaged students. And, it keeps public taxpayer dollars in public schools."
Murray led the fight to ensure funding is available to hire and train teachers to help schools make classrooms less crowded. She also worked to guarantee education for homeless students and to strengthen the Safe and Drug Free Schools program.
Throughout the process, Murray has called for increased funding to help states and localities meet the bill's new mandates. She has warned that the new testing regime must be used as a tool to focus on areas that need improvement and not as a way to punish students or to label schools as failures.
"I believe that Congress must closely monitor how the bill impacts students. I remain concerned about how the new tests will be used, and about the federal government setting the formula to measure student progress," Murray said.
"On balance, this bill takes important steps forward to improve our public schools and it is a win for our students. But we've got to make sure that these mandates don't end up holding our children back. If this bill leads to more crowded classrooms, fewer high-quality teachers, or a focus on testing instead of on learning, then we must be willing to revisit these mandates."