Congress Makes New Attempt at ESEA Reauthorization
On June 12, 2013, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) approved the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (S. 1094) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA; P.L. 89-10) for five years through federal fiscal year (FY) 2018. Similarly, on June 19, 2013, the full House passed the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), its six-year ESEA reauthorization proposal.
Both bills are similar to proposals approved by the committees in 2011, but big differences remain between the House and Senate versions. While each eliminates a number of K-12 programs, the Senate bill replaces these programs with nine new programs that have similar, distinct purposes. In some cases, these new programs would operate as competitive grants if the appropriation is below a certain level. The House bill, on the other hand, would establish three new block grants to fund a number of K-12 education activities. In addition, S. 1094 authorizes “such sums as necessary” for all programs under the bill, while H.R. 5 authorizes a maximum funding annual level for each program. When compared to current law and funding, H.R. 5 generally provides greater flexibility, but less funding for K-12 education programs, while S. 1094 retains the current funding and program structure. This Issue Brief provides detail on the major differences between the House and Senate bills.