WASHINGTON -- Rep. John Kline's enormous No Child Left Behind overhaul finally passed the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday -- without garnering a single Democratic vote.
The passage was a long time coming in this more conservative U.S. House of Representatives.
Kline first tried to push his "Student Success Act" through the new Congress earlier this year, but he ran into roadblocks with the Tea Party flank of his party. The same measure passed easily in the last Congress when it was less conservative.
To emerge successful Wednesday, the chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee had to accept a couple of amendments -- including one championed by the Heritage Foundation -- that made the bill more conservative. This same Tea Party crowd threatened to reject the measure a few months ago, mostly on the grounds that they didn't want the federal government messing with education.
The Heritage amendment specifically allows states to opt out of federal education requirements, while still accepting federal dollars. (This bill ultimately failed.)
In a statement, Kline said: "After years of working with education stakeholders and members of Congress, I'm pleased the House has advanced responsible reforms that would give the American people what they deserve: a commonsense law that will help every child in every school receive an excellent education."
Happening in tandem over in the U.S. Senate chamber is work on the more bipartisan No Child overhaul, adopted by the education committee and supported by several notable Democrats.
If the Senate passes its version, Kline and Senate leaders will likely go to conference to come up with an alternative that may be more palatable to House Democrats -- most of whom rejected it because of funding cuts to schools and too much flexibility for states on accountability.
Rep. Keith Ellison, chair of the progressive caucus, said in a statement Wednesday night, "Educating all children, regardless of their zip code, is one of the most important challenges we face as a nation. Equity must be at the heart of any attempt to overhaul our education system. But the Student Success Act does little to help kids in Minnesota who are struggling in schools with too few resources."