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Senate Passes Sweeping Education Bill to Provide Federal Funding For Hawai‘i Schools, Fix NCLB, and Improve Access to High-Quality Education

Legislation Overhauls Broken No Child Left Behind Program

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate voted 85-12 to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – legislation that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replaces No Child Left Behind.  U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, worked to include key provisions in the legislation that support funding for Hawai‘i schools and improve Native Hawaiian education.

“The best investment we can make is in our kids,” said Senator Schatz.  “This bipartisan bill gives Hawai‘i schools the flexibility and the funding to improve access to high-quality education, implement innovative approaches, and preserve key programs that help students succeed in school and in life.”

The Every Student Succeeds Act contains key Hawai‘i priorities including:

  • Funding for Federal Impact Aid, a program that assists schools that experience increased costs due to the enrollment of federally connected children.  Senator Schatz worked to preserve Hawai‘i-specific provisions in this critical program that provides tens of millions of federal dollars to support Hawai‘i schools;
  • Authorization of a competitive grant program to empower school districts, educational service agencies, and community organizations to implement and expand evidence-based, innovative educational strategies to serve schools in their communities.  The ESSA includes a bipartisan program, introduced by Senators Schatz, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), that expands upon innovative practices that are improving student achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment.
  • Support for Native Hawaiian education programs and schools.  This bill reauthorizes the Native Hawaiian education program, which includes the expansion of eligibility to charter schools and more than $160 million in funding over the next five years.  The ESSA also creates a new grant initiative to establish or expand Native language immersion programs.  The grants will support the revitalization of indigenous languages while increasing educational opportunities for Native Hawaiian, American Indian, and Alaska Native students.?The bill also authorizes a study of Native American language immersion schools that would provide critical data and help determine best practices for educating native students through the medium of Native American languages including Native Hawaiian.?
  • Overhaul of No Child Left Behind.  This bill broadens the focus of accountability beyond test scores to reduce pressure on students, teachers, and parents, so they can spend less time on test prep and more time on learning. The state-based accountability systems supported by the ESSA will provide more flexibility to implement meaningful solutions to address a school’s unique challenges, instead of a singular focus on test proficiency.