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NEA President says it is time to fix the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

WASHINGTON - March 14, 2011 -

In a speech at a Virginia middle school, President Barack Obama called on Congress to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) before the start of the next school year. The National Education Association (NEA) agreed that it’s time to fix the law and thanked the President for his strong commitment to education and to reforming ESEA.

“It is time to fix the law,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA. “We must move beyond No. 2 pencils and fill-in-the-bubble tests. We must set high standards and tailor support for students who need help meeting them.  We must use accountability systems to improve learning, to identify successful schools and to support those that are struggling. Accountability should never be about punishing schools.”

NEA believes the next version of ESEA must: 

  1. Prepare all students to thrive in college, careers and life. That means a revised ESEA must address the needs of the whole student and provide the kinds of wraparound services that students need to be successful. The new law must ensure that students learn to think critically and solve problems, skills essential to living and working in the 21st century. It must support the use data to improve instruction and use multiple, valid sources of evidence of growth in student learning and school performance over time. It must encourage the use of research and promote innovation, and it must encourage schools to better engage parents, families and communities as partners in students’ learning. 
  2. Elevate the teaching profession. The new law must help districts recruit and retain excellent teachers and education support professionals. NEA believes there should be rigorous preparation for entry into the teaching profession along with comprehensive systems of induction, mentoring and professional development for educators.   
  3. Make schools safe and equitable. The law should provide sustained and targeted support and research-based intervention strategies for struggling schools and provide funding for all schools that is adequate, equitable and sustained.

“Collaboration is the key to transforming schools,” added Van Roekel. “We have so many examples of schools and districts where educators are working in partnership with all stakeholder groups, and the result is that student achievement is rising. NEA and the President are on the same page because we agree that every student deserves a great education and a great school.  We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to realize this goal.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Ramona Parks-Kirby  (202) 822-7823,