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ESEA Campaign Heats Up

9,000 educators demand change

July 4, 2010

by Alain Jehlen

As Congress moves closer to reauthorizing ESEA, NEA is intensifying the pressure for major changes. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel called on delegates yesterday to bombard Congress and the administration with the strong message that No Child Left Behind must be changed, starting with a barrage of 9,000 postcard to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and he asked every state president to organize a “day of action” on ESEA.

The failure of NCLB has become obvious but that doesn’t guarantee the next version will be better. Van Roekel asked delegates to write on their postcards three things they don’t want in a new ESEA and three things that must be included. NEA will deliver the cards to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Van Roekel reminded delegates that “Candidate Obama said teachers should not be forced to spend the year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. … ‘Mr. President, your instincts were right – the path your advisors have laid out is not!’”

The people who will change NCLB are in Congress and the Obama Administration. So President Dennis Van Roekel and other NEA officers have met many times with Administration leaders and key members of Congress to help them understand what educators need to help our students learn—and why it’s not more high-stakes testing.

NEA’s campaign involves thousands of teachers and support professionals telling Congress and the news media what the law means in their classrooms.

NEA has sent Congress detailed, line-by-line proposals for changing the law. Read them—you’ll love them.

NEA is working with the American Federation of Teachers and dozens of other education, parent, ethnic minority, and religious organizations to jointly advocate for the changes our children need.

State Association leaders have met with their states’ Congressional delegations and worked to enlist their governors in the effort.

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NEA has built a campaign team of dozens of staff members from several departments to coordinate our work and bring all the skills and experience of the national and field staff to bear on this top priority effort.

The team has its own space at NEA headquarters. It constantly monitors the positions of Senators and Representatives, partners and critics, and organizes everything from national media events to local activist delegations to Capitol Hill.

But the whole campaign is based on the voices of NEA members. Most members of Congress do want a quality education for our students. They’re upset—and they pay attention—when educators tell them NCLB has promoted test prep over real learning.

Especially when they realize those educators vote.

That’s why the major focus of the ESEA campaign is bringing the voices of dedicated, hardworking members to Congress. As Van Roekel noted, “535 of them, 3.2 million of us. Do the math.”



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Change NCLB - But How?

The "No Child Left Behind" law was supposed to dramatically reduce achievement gaps and boost achievement. It has done neither. Now NCLB is overdue for reauthorization, which means it will be changed. What changes would you like to see? What provisions should be kept? How can the federal government really help schools close achievement gaps and improve achievement?

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