by Brian Washington
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For close to 13 years, public school students have suffered under the massive weight of an overzealous testing regime ushered in by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the 2002 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
NCLB’s one-size-fits-all approach inundated students with test after high-stakes test, leaving no room for authentic assessment. It also robbed educators of the joy and creativity associated with teaching children and helping them learn.
However, supporters of our public schools like you who want to see that students are adequately prepared for the future now have a window of opportunity to bring about real change—but you must act soon.
The U.S. Senate has announced that following the July 4th recess, it will begin debate on ESEA reauthorization, more specifically new legislation called the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA). This new bill, which has strong bipartisan support, represents lawmakers’ best chance to redo ESEA and, this time, get it right.
The legislation, as it stands now, has a lot of things going for it—things that will benefit students, educators, and public schools. For example, it moves decision-making back to the teachers, education support professionals, and school administrators who are most familiar with the students they serve. It also goes a long way in terms of providing the necessary supports needed to ensure that all children can receive a quality education, regardless of their zip code.
But, while the bill has some good points, it also contains areas that need improvement and raise concerns among education activists. Legislative specialists for the National Education Association (NEA), which represents 3 million active and retired educators and student-educators across the country, have compiled a complete rundown of the bill, including what the bill gets right as well as where and how it needs improvement. However, they are quick to point out that this legislation is definitely a step in the right direction.
It’s important to note that the Senate’s announcement regarding the ECAA follows an event last week sponsored by 10 national education groups, including NEA. During that event, the leaders of each group joined NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia in calling on Congress to act on reauthorizing ESEA.
“Now is the time for the Senate to put kids first. It’s unacceptable for Congress to leave for yet another recess without taking action on the bipartisan version of ESEA passed by the Senate education committee,” said Garcia in a joint statement from all the groups released by the NEA.
No student should start another school year living under the current failed education policy known as No Child Left Behind. We need the Senate to take up the Every Child Achieves Act now.
The fact that the Senate is even willing to bring the bill to the floor for debate is proof of just how powerful your voice is on Capitol Hill. They are doing so, in large part, because of your calls, letters, and emails, but we can’t stop now. We need you to continue to contact and apply pressure to members of the U.S. Senate. Tell them to, “Finish the job and get ESEA right!”
Send your U.S. Senators a message before they take up the bill after the July 4th recess. Students all across the nation are depending on you to take action now!