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Obama to sign ‘No Child Left Behind’ overhaul

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President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate cleared an overhaul of the controversial No Child Left Behind program in a bipartisan vote on Wednesday, sending the measure to President Barack Obama, who will sign it into law, the White House said.

The vote was 85-12.

Critics complained the George W. Bush-era law, which was supported by Republicans and Democrats when it was approved in 2002, gave too much influence to Washington in controlling education policy and that power should be returned to state and local school boards.

“It wasn’t long after the law was passed that we realized it was full of flaws,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said shortly before the vote.

Under the new law, named the Every Student Succeeds Act, students still must be tested in reading and math, but state and local officials would have greater leeway in determining how to respond to underachieving schools.

“This forward-looking replacement for a broken law would open new opportunities for our kids and put education back in the hands of those who understand their needs best: parents, teachers, states, and school boards,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called the bill a victory for “conservative reform.”

But not all conservatives agreed.

Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he opposed the deal because it still gives too much power to Washington.

The bill “continues to propagate the large and ever-growing role of the federal government in our education system—the same federal government that sold us failed top-down standards like Common Core,” Cruz said in a statement.

The White House said the President will sign the measure Thursday morning.