Reading legislation is made easier if you have an understanding of the form of outlining used. With that knowledge you can more quickly grasp what is related to what. You can also determine what is a big idea and what is something pretty minor. In this blog post, which is short, I will explain the general approach to outlining found in most federal legislation.
One thing that makes reading a reauthorization to an existing law more complicated is that one of two approaches is followed in the amendment process. The most reader-friendly approach is to strike all of the old law and insert the new one. The amendment in such a case would only have to say "strike all of ESEA and insert the following:". In such an approach parts of the old law may be retained but simply incorporated into a easily readable format along with new material. The second approach is to refer in an amendment to a specific part of an existing law and say that the section is amended to read as follows. The second approach is more tedious, not as easy to read, and requires an expertise in legislative outlining to follow what is going on. In Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA) the Senate reauthorization of ESEA, the committee used both approaches to amendments.
On pages 4 to 12 of the ECAA we find the table of contents for ESEA as amended by ECAA. There are nine titles in ESEA:
Title I: Improving Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged
Title II: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School
Title III: Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students
Title IV: Safe and Healthy Students
Title V: Empowering Parents and Expanding Opportunity Through Innovation
Title VI: Flexibility and Accountability
VII: Indian, Hawaiian Native, and Native Alaska Education
VIII: Impact Aid
IX: General Provisions
These nine titles are the big organizers for the ESEA.Think of them like major sections of a book or set of volumes on the same subject. Many titles have "parts" that are labeled with capital letters (A, B, C....), but some do not. A part can have "subparts". Subparts are labeled with numbers. Parts and subparts tend to be very big themes too. Within a part or subpart you have section numbers that begin with the title number. For example, in ESEA the first section in title eight begins with section 8001, the purpose of title VIII that deals with Impact Aid ( i.e., funding for school districts that have a high concentration of military personnel and their families living in the districts). Within a section you can have a subsection. Subsections are labeled with small case letters. Subsections contain paragraphs which are labeled with numbers. Subparagraphs within paragraphs are labeled with capital letters. Subparagraphs contain clauses that are labeled with lower case Roman numerals. If there are any subclauses these are labeled with upper case Roman numerals. This system could break down even further, but it usually doesn't, thank heaven. Below I give an example.
If a concept does not need to be broken down below a certain level then the the labeling process does not come into play. If you only have one provision at any level, the breakdown stops. For example if you only have one point to make under a section, the lowercase letter process does not come into play. If you have two points to make under a paragraph you would use capital letters A and B and stop. Said another way, if you only have one point to make a a certain level, labeling is not triggered. If labeling is used, you must have at least two points to make at that level.
So there you have it. Talk about tedious!