President Obama signed a new K-12 education law on Thursday that effectively ends heavy federal involvement in public schools and sends much of that authority back to states and local school districts.
“I want this not just because it’s good for the students themselves, the communities involved and it’s good for our economy but because it really goes to the essence of what we are about as Americans,” Obama said at a White House signing ceremony. “There is nothing more essential to living up to the ideals of this nation than to make sure every child is able to live up to their God given potential.”
The Every Student Succeeds Act, which received strong bipartisan support from both houses of Congress, will directly affect nearly 50 million students and their 3.4 million teachers in the nation’s 100,000 public schools.
But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate education panel, and the ranking Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), worked with their House counterparts, Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), to get the deal done.
“This is a Christmas miracle,” Obama said. “A bipartisan bill signing right here!”
“It’s not as if there weren’t some significant ideological differences on some of these issues,” the president said, to knowing laughter from the crowd of teachers, state officials, business groups, union leaders, civil rights advocates and lawmakers gathered for the bill signing. “People did not agree to everything on outset but they were willing to listen to each other in a civil, constructive way. It’s a testament to the four leaders of the respective committees that they set that kind of tone. It’s something we don’t often see here in Washington.”