U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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President signs K-12 education bill into law

Final measure includes Polis-authored language on dual-enrollment, innovation grants, open education resources

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Washington, December 10, 2015 | comments

President Obama today signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replace the existing law known as No Child Left Behind.

The rewrite – which hasn’t been done since 2001 – will move states beyond the stringent, outdated policies of No Child Left Behind, help reduce the amount of testing in our nation’s schools, and give more decision-making power back to states and districts.

“Today is a triumphant day,” Polis said. “This morning, I joined President Obama as he signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law and put the nearly 15-year era of No Child Left Behind officially in the past. Every student and every school in the country has been affected by the well-intentioned, but outdated policies of No Child Left Behind. Today, we finally replaced it with a law built on the principle that we should empower schools to help students achieve, not subject students and teachers to a one-size-fits-all system that bogs our education system down with endless red tape.”

As a senior member of the House Education Committee, Rep. Polis was chosen last month to serve on the conference committee that negotiated the final version of the bill after separate ones passed the House and Senate over the summer.

The final bill includes several measures championed by Polis that reflect Colorado priorities, including:

  • A dual-enrollment amendment Polis successfully offered in conference committee that allows federal funds currently devoted to English language learners to be used for dual or concurrent enrollment, a model that has been employed with widespread success across Colorado.
  • A grant program for innovation and evidence-based learning modeled off a bill Polis re-introduced in February. This program has helped schools across the country, including St. Vrain Valley School District, which received a $3.6 million innovation grant in 2010 to expand programs for at-risk students in seven schools. Because of the innovation grant, St. Vrain was able to extend the school year at four elementary schools, target math students at risk of failing at two middle schools, and fully implement the STEM Academy at Skyline High School.

Polis led opposition to the initial House bill on the floor in February and fought for several changes needed to help schools pursue innovative learning models and ensure school districts were accountable to all students, regardless of their race or background.

Polis has spent his career in public service fighting for a strong education system. He is the founder and former superintendent of New America School, a network of charter schools in Colorado and New Mexico, and he’s the former chair of the Colorado Board of Education.  He also co-founded the Academy of Urban Learning, a charter school in Denver.

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Tags: Education

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