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Remembering Kennedy as a Champion of Education

By Alyson Klein — August 26, 2009 1 min read

Sad news in the K-12 community today: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, passed away.

Kennedy was a key—make that “the key"—voice in the Senate on education issues. In recent years, he’s probably best known for his role as one of the main authors of the No Child Left Behind Act, the bipartisan initiative during President George W. Bush’s administration to reshape the education landscape. And, earlier this year, he helped advocate a major national-service bill that became known as the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

Over his decades in the Senate, Kennedy also championed the Americans With Disabilities Act and was a major proponent of Title IX, the 1972 law against sex discrimination in education that is credited with boosting the participation of women and girls in sports.

Back when Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I wrote this story about how his illness might affect education legislation. Everyone I talked to for the story said it would be much, much harder to find common ground on education issues without his leadership.

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