Contact: Frank Wells at (562) 942-7979 or cell (562) 708-5425
Burlingame – As today marks the 5th anniversary of the signing of the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (given the misleading title “No Child Left Behind”), the California Teachers Association is calling for positive changes to that law, changes that will actually help students and schools rather than punish them and label them as failures.
ESEA is up for reauthorization for this year, providing an opportunity for revisions that can provide genuine help to our nation’s schools. “The current version of ESEA has not delivered on its promise,” said CTA President Barbara E. Kerr. “It’s outrageously underfunded and is too often more about punishing schools that need help rather than giving them the tools they need to succeed. The public, and certainly our students, deserve better.”
CTA and the National Education Association have identified five areas in which they are emphasizing the need for positive change:
Accountability that rewards success and supports educators in helping students learn. The current system uses a “snapshot” approach based primarily on two standardized tests and dooms many schools to be unfairly labeled failures by imposing unrealistic achievement goals. The law often wrongly labels schools making good progress as bad. For example, if one or two students miss the test, the entire school may be labeled as failing.
Smaller class sizes to improve student achievement. Research and our own experience here in California shows that smaller class sizes work, giving students the one and one help they need. Under President Bush all federal funding for class size reduction has been cut. Congress can restore and add resources to lower class sizes, especially in schools that need the most help.
Quality Educators in Every Classroom and School. The recruitment and retention of highly qualified educators must be a top priority. Professional development and training for teachers and support personnel must be meaningful, up-to-date, and adequately funded.
Increased parental and family involvement in schools. Congress can help provide programs that strengthen the link between families and schools, and develop incentives or requirements for employers to make parental participation in school activities more feasible for working men and women.
Adequate resources to ensure a quality education for every student. In 2001 ESEA was reauthorized with the promise of fully funding its many mandates on states and local school districts. Instead, Congress has continuously cut funding for the program, leaving local districts obligated to comply with the law without the means to pay for it. Cumulative funding shortfalls since the law’s enactment now exceed $55 billion.
CTA’s concerns mirror those voiced by the National Education Association in their Positive Agenda for the ESEA Reauthorization. For more information visit www.nea.org/esea/posagendaexecsum.html.
“Congress has an opportunity to get this thing right this time,” said Kerr. “CTA hopes they will take the concerns of educators and parents seriously, do what’s best for students, and enact positive changes to this currently deeply flawed law.”