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House votes to replace ‘No Child’ education law

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, smiles as he walks to the floor of the House of Representatives as the GOP majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, smiles as he walks to the floor of the House of Representatives as the GOP majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Members of the House of Representatives leave the Capitol for the weekend after the Republican majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Members of the House of Representatives leave the Capitol for the weekend after the Republican majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • From right are Republican Policy Committee Chairman Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., walk to the floor of the House of Representatives as the GOP majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    From right are Republican Policy Committee Chairman Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., walk to the floor of the House of Representatives as the GOP majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks with reporters just after the Republican majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks with reporters just after the Republican majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • FILE - In this June 3, 2013 file photo, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, listens as President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The effort to rewrite the flawed No Child Left Behind education law is heading for a partisan confrontation as House Republicans champion legislation that would strip the federal government of its powers to set standards for students and schools. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

    FILE - In this June 3, 2013 file photo, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, listens as President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The effort to rewrite the flawed No Child Left Behind education law is heading for a partisan confrontation as House Republicans champion legislation that would strip the federal government of its powers to set standards for students and schools. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, smiles as he walks to the floor of the House of Representatives as the GOP majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Members of the House of Representatives leave the Capitol for the weekend after the Republican majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • From right are Republican Policy Committee Chairman Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., walk to the floor of the House of Representatives as the GOP majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks with reporters just after the Republican majority passed legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind law, in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. The Student Success Act reflects the long-held Republican premise that Washington has no business determining how local school systems are run. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • FILE - In this June 3, 2013 file photo, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, listens as President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The effort to rewrite the flawed No Child Left Behind education law is heading for a partisan confrontation as House Republicans champion legislation that would strip the federal government of its powers to set standards for students and schools. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

House Republicans voted yesterday to dismantle the troubled No Child Left Behind law for evaluating America’s students and schools, saying states and local school districts, rather than Washington, should be setting rules for ensuring that kids are getting good educations.

The legislation would eliminate federally required testing of students, which has been controversial from the start. But the measure passed with no Democratic support and drew a veto threat from the Obama administration, which said it would be a “step backward” in efforts to better prepare children for colleges and careers and to bring improvements to low-performing schools.

Democrats in the Senate, where they hold the majority, are working on their own bill. It would also give states greater flexibility in designing school improvement standards. But it would maintain the authority of the federal education secretary to approve those plans. A Senate vote on that legislation is unlikely until autumn.

The House bill, which Republicans named the Student Success Act and Democrats dubbed the Letting Students Down Act, passed 221-207, with every Democrat and 12 Republicans voting against it.

That partisanship comes against a background in which nearly everyone agrees that No Child Left Behind, while achieving some successes in improving achievement levels, is too inflexible and needs a major overhaul.

The law was passed by Congress in 2001, a bipartisan effort led by, among others, current House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, and the late senator Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat. President George W. Bush was a strong supporter and signed it into law in early 2002.

It required that all students be able to read and do math at their actual grade level by 2014. But the Obama administration, in a tacit acknowledgement that the goal was unattainable, last year began offering waivers to states that came up with their own federally approved plans to prepare students for college and careers and to measure student and teacher performance. To date, 39 states and the District of Columbia have been granted waivers.

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