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Educators to Merkley on NCLB: Correct the Bad, Protect the Good

Merkley townhall meeting attracts more than 1,600 Oregon educators

Oregon educators participating in a town hall meeting on Monday, April 26 with Senator Jeff Merkley underlined the importance of correcting the failings of the NCLB, which was supposed to help disadvantaged students achieve proficiency in math and reading. Instead, NCLB led to an excessive focus on standardized tests and a narrowing of the curriculum.

NCLB is the current incarnation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Hearings to reauthorize the ESEA are currently under way in the U.S. Congress.

Educators have developed eight guiding principles for reauthorizing ESEA including the role of the federal government in transforming low performing schools, the importance of family parental engagement and the role of competitive grants versus formula based funding.

“The Senate is now beginning work on legislation to strengthen and reform ESEA,” said Senator Merkley. “As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, I intend to be very involved in this debate to make sure our teachers and students are getting the resources and support they need so that all of our children can receive a high quality education that will best prepare them to work in a 21st century economy. I have visited students and schools in Oregon to learn about their successes and challenges and I appreciate this opportunity to hear directly from educators across the state as well.”

Protecting Class Sizes Merkley also discussed the Keep Our Educators Working Act, a bill introduced by Senator Tom Harkin that he co-sponsored. Keep Our Educators Working will create an Education Jobs Fund modeled after the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) that was established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus bill). The bill has 20 co-sponsors. Oregon could receive $270 million if the legislation passes.

“Fewer teachers in the classroom will only frustrate efforts to improve schools that aren’t performing at high levels,” said Gail Rasmussen, president of the Oregon Education Association.

Listen to Senator Merkley's tele-town hall.