Educators still fighting for fair, flexible and innovative ESEA


by Colleen Flaherty

The House of Representatives passed an ultimately flawed bill last week to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The bill, known as the “Student Success Act,”  passed 221 – 207 with no Democratic votes in support and 12 Republicans voting against the bill for final passage (see how your member voted).

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Legislators from both parties agree that the current ESEA, known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), is simply not working. While the original purpose of ESEA was to help raise achievement and increase equity, the current law relies far too much on high-stakes tests used to label and punish students and schools. However, replacing it with the “Student Success Act” is a step in the wrong direction.

The amendment that most compromised the act, proposed by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), would dilute the impact of the Title I program by creating portable entitlement. This will end up draining funding from schools with high concentrations of poverty.

Nonya Brown-Chesney – a North Carolina educator and parent of a child who attends a Title I school – has grave concerns over what loss of Title I funds could mean for equity in education.

“If they lose funding, how are they going to bridge the achievement gap? That’s my concern,” said Brown-Chesney. “What’s going to become of the students who depend on their school’s services?”

Every student deserves the same chance regardless of where they live or what their home or incomes are. Every student deserves a solid public education, and if there are things that are needed in the classroom then it is our duty to provide those things for every student.

Gail Trobaugh, an Indiana special education teacher, hopes that this isn’t the end for the fight to reauthorize a fair, flexible and innovative ESEA.

“I would be saddened if Congress missed this opportunity to fix this law, and in doing so, improve education for all students,” said Trobaugh. “NCLB is leaving children behind. It’s time to start really listening to the teachers and school personnel who work directly with kids.”

Fortunately for the nation’s educators, many House members from both parties are starting to listen, especially on the issue of high-stakes, poor-quality testing implemented under No Child Left Behind.

While the final bill was not what the nation’s students deserve, a few positive amendments passed thanks to the support of educator activists across the country. One successful bipartisan amendment – led by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) – requires states to use multiple measures of school success, so that accountability systems go beyond just test scores.

Another victory influenced by activists was an amendment by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT)  that prevents a federal mandate requiring teacher evaluations be singularly based on student achievement data without any protections of collective bargaining.

“Kids are people, and their education and improvement should be data supported, not data driven,” said Trobuagh. “Please listen, pay attention, and act to improve our schools – not just our test scores.”

Reader Comments

  1. My comment is short and to the point. The years of education being controlled by the NEA has not produced quality education in America. In fact since Schools became unionized, quality of education across the board has dropped American Schools to the bottom of the pile in the World Educational compilations..Once American schools were envied for their quality but now every day I read or hear on the news, that there seems to be a total insanity operating, i.e. some school just banned any contact sport with balls and this crap has been creeping in and I guess they want zombies to marching to the NEA music which has caused American Education to plummet to the bottom. The only way education will begin to improve is to kick out the destructive NEA. Today 50% of Americans are illiterate, 50% truancy across America in schools, chaos and fighting that requires cops on the premises. Marxist and Muslim agendas being presented to kids and anything patriotic or doing with prayer being eliminated so it is becoming clear, radical teachers under the guise of NEA need to go..Schools did not start the dramatic decline until NEA was voted in and important goal was the teacher not the students and their insidious Socialism agenda has been smeared all our schools and children. Get the Teacher’s Unions out!

  2. I was actually laughing as I read this article – and there’s nothing funny about it. Two things stand out:

    1. $$$$$ – since there isn’t any ESEA’s most basic premise is already doomed to fail.

    2. Today’s educators struggle greatly to keep up with the demands of every new federal mandate that is dumped on them. In my opinion, this alone is having a negative impact on education in the classroom. For example, interventions that are NCLB-based are now woven into the curriculum and extended services. These don’t just disappear when ESEA takes over. Teachers know their work load is about to increase, yet again.

    You want education reform? Give teachers time to teach!

  3. Elimination of the ESEA might actually make our local school systems able to innovate and improve their schools. As a Special Education Teacher I have seen paperwork requirements increase at least 5 fold in the last 10 years, thanks to the ESEA and NCLB. Many would be teachers say they just don’t want to deal with the SPED paperwork, and opt to become general education teachers. I am nearing retirement now and I am tired of working 15 hours a day to get it all done. Teaching has lost so many good people that I wonder where the replacements will come from when my generation retires.

  4. We have the same pattern here in NC. We have a new Republican governor and general assembly. They have legislated to ELIMINATE teacher tenure. They cut education funds badly again, cutting teachers’ aides, and increasing class size agaon. Even teachers were legislated a small cost of living pay raise, they will NOT RECEIVE this raise as there is no money awarded to support it.
    The expectations and assessments of teachers are brutal. Who would want to teach in NC?

    The federal position is cruel to educators and students, as well.

    Take a look at the other changes the NC legislature has made since January. We have stepped back in time hundreds of years. Sigh.

  5. 60Minutes News broadcast exposed the false claims on the success of NCLB and the standardized tests given to justify the program years ago when Pres.Bush was still in office.

  6. Don’t revise NCLB. Eliminate It altogether.No one can sit in Washington,D.C and tell educated,qualified teachers in the Caribbean how to teach and what should be thought to our islands’ students.

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