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Letter to ESEA Conference Committee on ESEA Amendments

November 19, 2015

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association (NEA) and the students they serve, we wish to share our views on select amendments which may be voted on as early as today by the House and Senate ESEA conference committee. Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Report Card for the 114th Congress.

NEA urges the following actions on these amendments:

  • Vote Yes on the amendment by Senator Bennet (D-CO) to permit states to establish a limit on the aggregate amount of time spent on assessments in comparison to time spent on instruction.
  • Vote Yes on the amendment by Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) to ensure that arts would be linked to STEM efforts to ensure students receive a well rounded education.
  • Vote No on the amendment by Senator Burr (R-NC) which would eliminate the requirement that states would have to intervene in the bottom performing 5% of schools in the state.
  • Vote No on the amendment by Senator Burr (R-NC) which would delay implementation of the new law until 2017.  Students, educators and communities have been waiting 14 years for a new ESEA, we should not have to make them wait one day longer.
  • Vote No on the amendment by Senator Burr (R-NC) which would eliminate the identification of high schools with very low graduation rates.  This would take away the important attention needed for providing support to turn around drop out factories.
  • Vote No on the amendment by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) which would establish a clearinghouse in the Department of Education for teacher evaluation programs. This amendment gives little guidance on the development of criteria to assess evaluation systems for inclusion in the clearinghouse leaving too much discretion to the Secretary and provides no assurance that included evaluation systems have had or would have a positive influence on teacher effectiveness or student learning.
  • Vote Yes on the amendment by Senator Enzi (R-WY) which would require a review of all early childhood education programs looking for ways to streamline them and find opportunities to eliminate duplication.
  • Vote No on the amendment by Rep. Grothman (R-WI) which would cap education funding at FY 2016 levels robbing children of the resources they need to succeed.
  • Vote Yes on the amendment by Rep. Messer (R-IN) which would allow Title II funds to be used for educating teachers about data privacy issues.  
  • Vote No on the amendment by Rep. Polis (D-CO) which would mandate the development of teacher evaluations and their components at the federal level.  These decisions are best made at the local level with buy in from educators and their districts.
  • Vote Yes on the amendment by Rep. Polis (D-CO) to allow for early college or concurrent enrollment in courses or programs designed to help English language learners achieve success in postsecondary education.
  • Vote Yes on the amendment by Rep. Polis (D-CO) to include Student Non-Discrimination Act provisions in Title IX to ensure that all students have access to public education in a safe environment free from discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Vote Yes on the amendment by Rep. Thompson (R-PA) which would require a study to look at the impact of all four formulas under Title I to determine  if they target the students that are most in need.
  • Vote Yes on the amendment by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) which expands the use of Title IV funds for the establishment and improvement of drop-out prevention and reentry programs to help those students most at risk.

We thank you for your consideration of our views on these amendments. We look forward to working with conferees to craft a final bill that returns control of our nation’s education back to where it belongs - in the hands of local educators, parents and communities - while keeping the focus on students most in need.

Sincerely,

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations