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Lawmakers Debate Education Reform Bills
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Mississippi schools could feel the effect of an education reform bill being debated in Congress this week. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, the bill would upend the 14-year-old No Child Left Behind Act.

The Senate began debating the bill, which was introduced by Republican Lamar Alexandar from Tennessee and Democrat Patty Murray from Washington, on Tuesday.

Mississippi senator Roger Wicker has expressed his support for the legislation, which he says, “would help return control to states and school districts by ending the federal test-based accountability system."

Senator Thad Cochran has not yet commented on the bill, but did work on some provisions for rural schools that were included in it.

US Education Secretary Arne Duncan this week applauded many elements of the bill, saying "it elements the prescriptive one-size-fits-all approach of No Child Left Behind, and includes expanded access to high-quality preschool, which we think is the best investment we as a nation can make."

But, the education secretary said because the legislation is missing key provisions, he could not support it as it currently stands. White House Domestic Policy Council director Cecilia Munoz said one of the main concerns is, the bill doesn’t require states to offer plans for improvement.

"We would like to see language that would allow us to measure what is going on in the lowest-performing schools, and require school districts to do something about what they find in the lowest-performing schools," she says.

The House is expected to begin debate on its own education reform bill this week as well.