Education secretary pushes for ESEA reauthorization


by Colleen Flaherty

Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed for the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in a hearing today before the Heath, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the version of the law enacted in 2001, has fallen short according to Duncan, especially when it comes to the growing achievement gap.

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“The closer we have gotten to 2014, the more NCLB has changed from an instrument of reform into a barrier to reform, and the kids who have lost the most from that change are those who benefitted the most in the early years of NCLB – students with disabilities, low-income and minority students and English learners,” said Duncan in his testimony.

“In practice, NCLB unintentionally encouraged States to lower their standards so that more students would appear to be proficient, even though they weren’t – and many States did. NCLB also labeled every school that missed a single target as failing, including some that were making progress in educating disadvantaged students and closing achievement gaps.”

Some states have been granted waivers from the more onerous and outdated provisions of NCLB, but a full reauthorization of ESEA would make the waivers unnecessary.

“We will work with States, districts, and schools to support educators as they continue to work to improve their efforts, so that all students graduate from high school ready for college and careers,” Duncan said.

NEA has long emphasized the need for a full reauthorization of the law that reduces reliance on one-size-fits-all standardized testing and focuses on reforms that build the foundation for student success: early childhood education; smaller classes; a well-rounded education; up-to-date computers and textbooks; a safe and supportive learning environment and access to computers and up-to-date books.

Learn more about NEA’s Positive Agenda for ESEA Reauthorization.

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