Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced a bill Tuesday to restart the reauthorization process for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA's authorization expired in 2007, and political differences in Congress have stalled reauthorization efforts. Sen. Harkin’s 1,150 page bill, called the Strengthening America's Schools Act of 2013, would also replace the unworkable portions of No Child Left Behind, ESEA’s successor education law. Perhaps the most progressive part of the bill, however, is its nondiscrimination language requiring schools to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students from discrimination, including bullying and harassment of students who are or are perceived as LGBT. ESEA funding will be tied to schools’ enforcement of the antidiscrimination language. Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, told the Associated Press, “We are thrilled that the Senate is moving to address the long overdue issue of school bullying and harassment. This bill includes critical components to ensure safer learning environments.” The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions is scheduled to begin marking up the bill on June 11. Read more at the Washington Post.