NEA welcomes progress on reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act


The Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), today took the first step toward reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) [ed note: pdf link]. 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 overreliance on test scores to label and punish students and schools.

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Leave a comment below and let us know what you hope to see fixed in the reauthorization process.

Education Votes will be following up with an in depth analysis of the reauthorization bill once we have had the time to read the complete text [ed note: pdf link].

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 with him and Senators from both sides of the aisle to find common sense, bipartisan solutions to fix the flawed law.

Education Votes will be following up with a more in depth analysis once we have had a chance to review the bill in its entirety [ed note: pdf link] later in the week. In the meantime, leave a comment below and let us know what you hope to see fixed in the reauthorization process.

Reader Comments

  1. As a math teacher I find students come to class with a 4th grade to a 10th grade ability level. Currently I am teaching Algebra to these students. The law requires that I teach students on a 4th grade level Algebra which they are not properly prepared for. These students need rigorous instruction at their current ability level so they can grow at a faster pace. Teaching them Algebra is not rational or fair. Law makers seem to be acting like the ostrich with its head in the sand, fearing what is before their eyes.

  2. Teachers, staff, parents AND students should be making decisions on education based on their own specific needs, not politicians.

  3. Still disappointed that Senator Harkin’s “update” to NCLB still focuses heavily on trying to tie teacher evaluations to student outcomes which we know is most frequently standardized tests. Research has shown that there are multiple factors that influence student outcomes and individual teachers can be tied to one small portion of that….yet teachers very jobs are being tied to the whole thing. What in this “update” provides us hope that a more sensible perspective will take hold anytime soon that focuses on student learning and what students need rather than on more so-called “accountability” schemes.

  4. The only problem with standardized testing, is when too much weight is given to questions that cater to specific cultural settings, and ignore others. Obviously our children are hardwired to learn, and learn best in that which they are most interested. That is why the best educations expose them to the most things they may be interested in, so they can choose their path, and excel to their fullest potential.

    But educators also must evaluate the cultural assumptions on what is common knowledge within these groups, because using standardized testing across this country as a basis for anything can easily discriminate against cultures different than that from which the test writers came. And we are closing and punishing school systems based on such nonsense? Not scientific, more like shooting from the hip, for which our last president is famous.

  5. I am not or never have been a teacher but an overall look at education is that, we are taking the quick to learn and obviously very bright kids who will find their way in this life no matter what is taught in the class room and putting an emphasis on them as the norm,, whereas the ones who need it so badly are being left behind just like the the phrase you have coined. A look at the crime everywhere by juveniles should tell you something is wrong. Just step back and look at the “low” achievers and study what they like, how they think and how the news that they are below average hits them. IQ tests show there is a difference in them.It takes any incentive they feel they can never learn…ah ha. yes. Maybe its learning from the top down. and not from the whole person,…body mind and spirit. It’s getting, going, and doing, as well as reading, writing and math . A senior citizen who found tests and timed stuff hard.

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