News Releases

ESEA: Senator Murray Education Priorities Included in Bipartisan Reauthorization Bill

Oct 11 2011

Murray successfully pushed for comprehensive literacy program, strong high school and career pathways section

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that major priorities that she fought for were included in the bipartisan draft of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), released today by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Ranking Member Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY).

Murray worked closely with her colleagues on the HELP committee as this draft legislation was written, focusing on a few key areas that are included in the base bill, including a comprehensive literacy section and a high school reform program that focuses on career pathways and early college opportunities to increase student engagement and graduation rates.

“This legislation builds on what is working in our schools, and it gives states and districts the tools and flexibility they need to offer every student the opportunity to get the education and skills they need to fill the jobs of the 21st century,” said Senator Patty Murray.

“I was proud to work with Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Enzi, and so many others to include a comprehensive literacy program based on my LEARN Act that will start early and continue through high school to make sure that no student falls through the cracks and passes through the system without learning how to read and write.

“And since the students of today are the workers of tomorrow, I was also proud to work with my colleagues to include, for the first time in ESEA, a strong high school reform program that will give schools the tools and resources they need to create ‘career pathways’ for their high school students and to make education more relevant to the 21st century jobs we need our students to fill.”

“This bipartisan draft legislation is a strong step in the right direction, and it addresses so many of the concerns that I have been hearing from parents and schools in communities across Washington state. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the HELP committee to make this good bill even better and to pass it through the committee next week.”

The literacy section of the draft bill released today was based on the literacy bill that Senator Murray introduced in May of this year, the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation, or the LEARN Act. This comprehensive literacy program will support state and local literacy efforts to ensure that children from birth to grade twelve have the reading and writing skills necessary for success in school and beyond. Specifically, the program will enhance the capacity of states to improve literacy instruction through the support of state literacy leadership teams. It will provide high-quality, research-based professional development opportunities for instructional staff and financial support for literacy coaches, and will support promising and innovative practices to improve literacy and writing, especially for students reading and writing below grade level.

The high school reform section of the draft bill includes key provisions from the “career pathways” legislation that Murray introduced in April of this year to help state and regional leaders increase high school graduation rates and prepare America’s next generation of highly skilled workers. This section of the legislation will ensure students are graduating from high school prepared for success by creating career pathways that integrate rigorous academics, career and technical education, and experiential learning for high school students, all focused on careers in high-skill, high-demand industries. Schools will also be required to provide students with college and career counseling, work-based experiences, and opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school.  


When this legislation is brought to the HELP Committee for markup next week, Senator Murray will be pushing to improve the bill in a number of ways, including improved provisions related to early childhood education, data collection to ensure equity for at-risk populations, and support for homeless students.