Federal Lawmakers Need to Fix Pending ESEA

Over CTA and NEA member objections, the House of Representatives on a partisan vote recently passed HR 5, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Now known as The “Student Success Act” (HR 5), the bill as currently written would undermine the federal government’s role of helping to ensure equity of opportunity for all students. Specifically, the bill would reduce resources aimed to support the education of marginalized students and undermine teacher quality and the role of collective bargaining in constructing teacher evaluations.

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ESEA Must Put Students at Center of Education Reform

Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), the original purpose of ESEA was to help raise achievement and close gaps in student learning. Unfortunately, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) -- as it’s now called -- is not working as intended. Reauthorization of the law presents an opportunity to really help ALL of America’s students this time.

Congress must be willing to make the appropriate investments in order to ensure that NCLB lives up to its original goals, that’s why we are urging lawmakers to craft fair, flexible, and innovative K-12 legislation that really can bring about sustainable positive change for our students.

The future of our students will depend on investing in classroom priorities widely recognized as essential to sustained effectiveness, such as quality early childhood learning, smaller class sizes particularly in the early grades, additional learning time, and increased and sustainable funding for public schools.

We need to put students at the center of education reform, and we need federal legislation that seeks to partner width and support state efforts in meaningful reform, not undermine it.

The federal government must balance its support of states and local school districts’ efforts width its critical role in ensuring equitable access to a quality education so that students in need have what they deserve to thrive in today’s society. Therefore, ESEA must effectively address existing inequities in public education that harm students and communities, particularly students and communities of color.

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Senator Harkin Unveils 'Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013'

US Senator Tom Harkin took a step toward reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) today. Commonly known as No Child Left Behind and last reauthorized in 2001, ESEA defines the federal role in K-12 education. For more than a decade, educators have been sounding the alarm about the law’s unintended consequences and its over-reliance on test scores to label and punish students and schools.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel issued the following statement:

“Schools around America are winding down for the summer but Congressional efforts to rewrite the federal education law are just getting underway in Washington. We welcome this renewed effort. Students, parents, and educators know the law isn’t working. That’s why there’s been such strong push back—from Seattle to Rhode Island to Florida —against high-stakes standardized testing schemes ushered in by the law. The time has come for Congress to craft a fair, flexible, and innovative K-12 law that leads to real sustainable change for our children, while keeping the ESEA goals of equity and shared responsibility front and center.

“We believe all children deserve great schools, and Congress must make the investments so that we are ensuring opportunity for all children, not exacerbating current inequities. ESEA must address existing inequities in public education that harm students and communities, particularly students and communities of color.

“We are accountable for student success, and we must ensure that ESEA changes its current focus from punishing students, schools and educators to helping those most in need. Every student deserves committed, caring and qualified educators in her or his classroom. In order for the law to work, we must empower educators so they can focus on what’s important—student learning and achievement. Educators spend their lives and careers teaching—and protecting—their students. ESEA must respect educators by empowering us and allowing us to focus on the kind of instruction that students need.

“As education advocates, our top priority is to make sure that what happens in Washington actually works for students and educators in classrooms and schools across the country. We thank Chairman Harkin for his leadership and look forward to working width him and Senators from both sides of the aisle to find common sense, bipartisan solutions to fix the flawed law.”

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Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

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