Skip to Content

NEA on ESEA Reauthorization: The time for change is now

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel: The public education system is critical to democracy

WASHINGTON - February 06, 2013 -

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will take a closer look at NCLB waivers at a hearing tomorrow, February 7. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and several state education chiefs will testify. The National Education Association welcomes the hearing as a catalyst to reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The National Education Association issued the following statement today from its president, Dennis Van Roekel:

“The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is long overdue. Educators look forward to action by Members of Congress to make key changes in the law that helps transform public schools into high-quality learning centers by recognizing the shared responsibility among local, state, and federal governments.

“Today, the Senate HELP Committee and the Administration are focused on NCLB waivers, which are serving as a needed, temporary stopgap measure to help public schools avoid some of the harshest unintended consequences of NCLB. However, only a full reauthorization of ESEA will provide each student in the public school system the support and resources they need and deserve. Students’ success in school today depends in large part on the zip code on where they live. We must break the cycle of leaving generations of students behind by continuing to deny them the best education this country has to offer.

“We know that our public education system is critical to democracy. We know that a strong public education system can maximize the achievement, skills, opportunities, and potential of all students by promoting their strengths and addressing their needs. We also know that the pathway from poverty—to and beyond America's great middle class—runs through the classrooms of public schools and institutions of higher education.

“We urge leaders and Members on both sides of the aisle to put aside partisan sound bites and complete the reauthorization of ESEA to ensure this nation finally eradicates its persistent equity, skills, and achievement gaps that continue to permeate far too many schools and communities. NEA will continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive bill that works for our nation’s students and reflects the important federal role of ensuring equity while working with states and local school districts to support the public education system. We must remain open to ideas, especially those that are driven by evidence. And we should especially focus on ideas that will help our lowest achieving students stay in school, be inspired, learn, achieve, and graduate to become productive members in our democratic society.

“We know the road to economic stability and prosperity runs through our public schools, and we know that every student deserves the best we can offer. Let’s not abandon the students who need us most. The time for ESEA reauthorization is now. The time to change is now. The time to deliver is now.”

For more on NEA’s positive agenda on ESEA reauthorization visit
Follow us on twitter at

# # #

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823,