NEA's 8 Principles For ESEA Reauthorization
The reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) must focus on policies that would help transform public schools into high-quality learning centers by recognizing the shared responsibility among local, state, and federal governments. Given the law’s complexity, each proposed change must be carefully considered to fully understand its effect on our nation’s schools and students. Therefore, the National Education Association encourages Congress to listen to the voices of educators in developing legislative proposals and offers these principles for ESEA reauthorization:
- The federal government should serve as a partner to support state efforts to transform public schools.
- The 21st century requires a partnership among all levels of government—federal, state and local—to make up for the historic inequitable distribution of tools and resources to our nation’s students.
- We should support effective models of innovation (such as community schools, career academies, well-designed and accountable charter schools, magnet schools, inclusion of 21st century skills, and educational technology), and create a more innovative educational experience to prepare students for challenging postsecondary experiences and the world of work.
- The federal government plays a critical role in ensuring that all children—especially the most disadvantaged—have access to an education that will prepare them to succeed in the 21st century. The federal government should focus on high-quality early childhood education, parental/family involvement and mentoring programs, as well as quality healthcare for children to help overcome issues of poverty that may impede student progress. It should support community school initiatives in an effort to address these issues comprehensively; must invest in proven programs such as knowledge-rich curricula and intensive interventions; and must provide resources to improve teaching and learning conditions through smaller classes and school repair and modernization.
- A revamped accountability system must correctly identify schools in need of assistance and provide a system of effective interventions to help them succeed. The schools most in need of improvement deserve targeted, effective, research-based interventions designed to address their specific needs. States and school districts should be given significant flexibility through a transparent process to meet agreed-upon outcomes, using innovative data systems and a variety of growth models based on movement towards proficiency. School quality and student learning must be based on multiple valid and appropriate measures and indicators.
- Teachers and other staff must be provided supports and resources to help students succeed. Hard-to-staff schools, especially those with high concentrations of disadvantaged students or those that have consistently struggled to meet student achievement targets, need significant supports and resources, including additional targeted funding to attract and retain quality teachers, and induction programs with intensive mentoring components that will help teachers become successful.
- The federal government should require states to detail how they will remedy inequities in educational tools, opportunities and resources. Funding should be targeted to schools with the highest concentrations of poverty. To build on the historic investment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal government should guarantee funding for critical federal programs, such as Title I of ESEA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
- State and local collective bargaining for school employees must be respected.
- Targeted programs that support students and schools with unique needs—such as English Language Acquisition, Impact Aid, rural schools and Indian education—should be maintained and expanded.
- The federal government should serve as a research clearinghouse, making available to educators a wealth of knowledge about how best to teach students and help schools improve practices.