Contact: Dina Martin at 415-710-6794 (cell) or Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324
VALLEJO – Bay Area teachers, parents and community members today urged U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Concord, to rewrite and reauthorize the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) so the law can actually help students, teachers and schools rather than punishing them.
In a news conference, teachers asked Miller, who has made some progress towards addressing teacher concerns with the law, to abandon his latest idea to pay and evaluate teachers based on student test scores. The news conference preceded a community meeting called by Miller on ESEA, known as the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The meeting comes as Congress prepares to reauthorize ESEA, the controversial legislation that Miller co-authored with Sen. Edward Kennedy and that President Bush signed in 2002. The California Teachers Association has led the campaign to change the punitive and onerous provisions of the law.
Educators speaking out against the one-size-fits-all approach of the law included Katherine Catanzarite, co-president president of the Vallejo Education Association; Vallejo City Unified School District teacher Lynette Henley and Lake County educator Larry Allen, who are both on the board of directors of the 340,000-member CTA; and Dennis Kelly, president of United Educators of San Francisco.
“This law sets up schools to fail,” Allen said. “We need a system that provides assistance and resources to help all students and schools, instead of sanctions. Teachers are also asking Congressman Miller to abandon any plan to pay and evaluate teachers based on a single test score. Research shows that a single test score is not the best measure of student success and there is no evidence that paying teachers based on test scores improves student learning.”
Henley said the unfair law “forces schools to waste time and money on bureaucracy, paperwork and standardized testing, rather than providing resources to reduce class sizes and to attract and retain quality educators in every classroom.”
The State PTA shared concerns that parents have. “The California State PTA believes that the strong parental involvement provisions must be maintained and the act must ensure that local plans include a meaningful communication strategy that ensures district communications are regular, two-way, and timely,” said Linda Mayo, a legislative advocate for the State PTA. “The reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act must also recognize parents as full partners in their child’s education, and parents must be included, as appropriate, in decision making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their children.”