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N.M. Senator adds crucial tech language into No Child Left Behind replacement bill

During one of the most important Senate committee meetings on K-12 education in the past decade, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) had an active roll in pushing through a bill aimed at overhauling the much-maligned No Child Left Behind.

The legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), was proposed by the two leading Democrat and Republican Senators in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and articulated many of the terms and conditions states must honor to receive federal education dollars. On average, federal funds for schools amount to a tenth of total school budgets.

In his role as a sitting member of the HELP Committee, Sen. Bingaman successfully proposed an amendment that reauthorizes an educational technology grant program geared towards improving student learning. The Technology and Innovation (ATTAIN) Act of 2011 within the proposed bill would award funds to schools for increased technological literacy among students. It would also train teachers to better understand the digital tools available to them.

Funds will be distributed through an application-based process, and states will have to demonstrate teachers and librarians have the skills to use the technology services.

As written in the amendment, the goal for this measure is to raise student achievement, ensure highly effective teaching, and prepare all students so they can be on track to “college and career readiness for the 21 century digital economy.”

ATTAIN was earlier proposed as a standalone piece of legislation with two other Democratic Senators. A summary of that legislation can be found here.

President Johnson originally passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965. NCLB is its current iteration, passed in 2002 by President Bush. Congress was supposed to reauthorize the law in 2007 but did not. In recent months educators and local administrators called for the law to change, citing impossible performance targets and an over emphasis on standardized testing.

President Obama unveiled a series of waivers states could apply for to opt out of NCLB — a move that upset many Republicans. The current ESEA bill needs to pass before early next year if Congress hopes to nullify the role of those waivers, which are set to take off in January.

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