Nearly half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a sweeping federal education act and promised to “bridge the gap between helplessness and hope” for disadvantaged children in the nation’s public schools, Congress is still trying to fine-tune the law to achieve its original goals.
On Tuesday, Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, introduced the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013. It is an updated version of the 48-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the law that governs all public schools that receive federal money to support the most vulnerable students among the poor, racial minorities, learners of the English language and the disabled.
Mr. Harkin’s bill seeks to update No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s version of the law, which passed in 2001 and has been up for reauthorization since 2007. Congress has repeatedly tried, but failed, to pass a new edition.
Mr. Harkin, who is the chairman of the Senate education committee and has announced plans to retire next year, has a long climb ahead of him.