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Orrin H.
Republican UT

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  • Student Success Act—Conference Report—Continued

    by Senator Orrin G. Hatch

    Posted on 2015-12-08

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    HATCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I am grateful for this opportunity to offer a few remarks on the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    To be honest, I wasn't sure we would ever reach this point, given the often contentious and sensitive nature of the educational debate, but it is only fitting that we have spent so much time and energy trying to get the best bill we can. After all, the future of our Nation depends on it, our States depend on it, our schools depend on it, and our families and children depend on it.

    I credit the success of this bill to the diligent work of the chairman and ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee, as well as the chairman and ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. As a former chairman of this committee myself, I know how difficult it can be to strike a deal that is agreeable to both sides, but our committee leaders have done an outstanding job. I wish to thank them for helping us to reach out and reach a compromise. That is exactly what this bill is, a compromise. While neither side considers it perfect, both parties can agree that this bipartisan legislation will significantly improve the quality of education in our country.

    I have met with a wide variety of local education leaders in Utah, and each one I have spoken to supports this bill. This legislation helps fix a broken system that is failing our students. Once we have passed this reauthorization, our work will be far from over, but we will once again be moving in the right direction.

    For the past several years, my home State of Utah has sought relief from unworkable provisions in No Child Left Behind through the waiver process, but the waiver process is dysfunctional. It forces States to appeal to the Federal Government to fix a problem created by the Federal Government. As our State superintendent in Utah said, ``Results of the waiver process have not been salutary for education, for developments in administrative law, or for the health of our republic. Reforming and revising this deeply flawed statute has and must be the primary work of our federal delegates with respect to education.'' Today we are answering his plea and the plea of many State and local leaders throughout the country.

    I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to work on this bill. I am also grateful for the opportunity I have had to help write many of its provisions, including the Education Innovation and Research Program, which will allow schools, districts, nonprofits, and small businesses to develop proposals based on specific local needs. Funding for this program will be awarded based on demonstrated, successful outcomes flowing from the project. This initiative will help us find other incubators of success. It will also remove limitations on flexibility in exchange for demonstrated outcomes. Money should not be tied to what the Senate or the Federal Department of Energy thinks are good, prescriptive ideas. It should be tied to local innovation and tangible results.

    Through this bill, I have also worked to expand technology usage in the classrooms and to equip our teachers with the professional development they need to use technology successfully. Too many of our schools are using outdated or ineffective technological methods and models that are missing critical components of teacher participation and support. Educational technology allows us to personalize learning for students, target where students are struggling, and provide real- time, valuable feedback to teachers so they may adapt their instruction most effectively. I hope we can provide every child access to the same tools and resources and create the individualized learning experiences that we know are critical to success. This bill equips both educators and students with resources they need to succeed.

    As the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce said, ``This bill empowers willing states to achieve [through] improved early learning and high quality preschool experiences. It also invests in our hardworking teachers with more preparation programs, including those designed to improve literacy, civics education, and STEM education.'' This legislation is a victory both for Utah and for our Nation. The sooner we send this bill to the President and the sooner we can empower our States to help our students achieve their full potential, the better off we are all going to be. I have to say that I think this would be a major watershed bill. Hopefully, we will pass it tomorrow and our elementary and secondary education will greatly benefit from it.

    Again, I particularly compliment the distinguished chairman and ranking member for the work they have done on this bill--the hard and effective work they have done on this bill. I am grateful to have the privilege of working with them on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

    I wish to thank everybody who has played a role on this difficult bill. It is difficult for me to see why anybody would vote against this bill because it repairs what has been a very pitiful system under No Child Left Behind.

    Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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