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Kaine Applauds Final Passage Of Every Student Succeeds Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine praised passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which passed the Senate 85-12 today following House passage of the legislation last week. In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, Kaine applauded the inclusion of key provisions he authored to help prevent sexual assault and strengthen career and technical education (CTE) in schools across the country. The ESSA, which will replace No Child Left Behind, now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“I would like to applaud Senators Murray and Alexander for reaching across the aisle and working with their committee colleagues to fix a long-expired and broken law. Education is key to both individual success and our country’s economic success, and this bill gives parents, schools, districts and states the flexibility to close achievement gaps,” Kaine said. “I’m pleased that the bill will allow elementary and secondary schools – for the first time – to use Title IV funds for instruction and training on safe relationship behavior among students. I believe it will help prevent sexual assault, not just on college campuses, but for anybody in the 16-24 age range who are most vulnerable. ESSA also includes my provisions to improve access to K-12 career and technical education (CTE) programs. CTE is an important pathway for students to prepare for the workforce by integrating practical applied purposes with work-based knowledge and a hands-on learning experience.”

A key provision of the Teach Safe Relationships Act, legislation Kaine introduced with U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill last February, was included in the final bill. For the first time, elementary and secondary schools will be allowed to use Title IV education funding specifically for instruction and training on safe relationship behavior among students. The idea for the legislation came out of a December 2014 meeting Kaine had at the University of Virginia to listen to students’ recommendations for preventing campus sexual assault. Numerous CTE provisions Kaine authored were also included in the bill, including amendments to expand career counseling, modernize high schools with work-based learning opportunities and designate CTE as a part of a well-rounded education along with traditional subjects including English, math and science.

“More than 10,000 AFT members asked Congress to pass the Teach Safe Relationships Act, and we’re excited that core components of the original bill are included in ESSA thanks to Sen. Kaine and Sen. McCaskill's determined efforts. As a survivor of an attempted assault, I know first-hand how important it is to teach young people lessons about topics like affirmative consent and bystander intervention. It’s on all of us to end sexual and gender-based violence—and we believe age-appropriate education can play an important role,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

“I’m sincerely grateful to our partners on Capitol Hill, especially the members of the Senate and House CTE Caucuses, for their work to ensure that a reauthorized ESEA will place an unprecedented emphasis on the importance of CTE in every student’s education,” said Association for Career and Technical Education Executive Director LeAnn Wilson. “The Every Student Succeeds Act will, among other things, strengthen the integration of CTE and academic content, emphasize the need for career readiness in K-12 education and expand college and career guidance programs.”

Below is a full list of provisions authored by Kaine that were included in the bill:

  • Teaching safe relationship behavior – Instruction and training on safe relationship behavior among students is included as an allowable use of funds under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants in Title IV. Kaine introduced the Teach Safe Relationships Act in February of 2015 following a discussion with University of Virginia student advocates who recommended improved K-12 education as one method to prevent campus sexual assault.
  • Career counseling – Includes career and guidance counseling programs as well as training on local workforce needs and various options for postsecondary and career pathways as an allowable use of funds under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants in Title IV. Kaine introduced the Career Ready Act in February 2015 with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) that would help ensure students are ready for postsecondary education and the workforce by encouraging states to implement career guidance programs in schools and keep track of career readiness factors implemented in school districts.
  • CTE integration and professional development – Adds a new allowable use of funds to Title II of ESSA to allow states to develop strategies for integrating academic and career and technical education content and supporting professional development for CTE teachers.
  • Adding CTE as a core academic subject – Includes career and technical education in the definition of a ‘well-rounded education’ along with traditional academic subjects like math and English.
  • Career readiness indicators – Encourages states to use more career readiness indicators in their accountability system and state report cards, so states will have the opportunity to recognize schools that are successfully preparing students for postsecondary education and the workforce through tools like technical skills and college credits. These provisions build on Kaine’s Career Ready Act.
  • CTE teachers - Allows Title II professional development funds to be used for career and technical educators to help improve the quality of CTE courses.
  • Early childhood education - Authorizes the Preschool Development Grant program which will provide competitive grants to support states to improve and expand access to high-quality early childhood programs. The program will be administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services jointly with the U.S. Department of Education. Kaine introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act in January 2015 to create a similar federal-state partnership to improve state preschool programs and expand current programs to serve more children in need. Kaine has been a long-time champion of access to quality early learning programs. As Governor, he expanded the Virginia Preschool Initiative by increasing Pre-K enrollment by 40 percent in the Commonwealth.

ESSA reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is the primary source of federal aid for K-12 education in the United States.