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NEA on ESSA Regulations

Lily Eskelsen García: Listening to educators is key, but there's still work to be done


WASHINGTON - August 31, 2016 -

Earlier today the U.S. Department of Education released proposed regulations to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The following can be attributed to National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García.

“NEA is committed to ensuring that all regulations handed down by the Department of Education live up to the early promise of ESSA- ensuring that all of our students, regardless of their ZIP code, have access to a great public education. We are carefully reviewing the proposed regulations with an eye toward ensuring they promote what we know works: Collaboration. Opportunity. Innovation.

 “NEA advocated for, and supports, distributing state and local funds to schools based on need. Students at an educational disadvantage, such as those in poverty, English learners, students with disabilities, and homeless students, among others, merit additional funding for their schools. I've taught at homeless shelters in Utah. Those students are eager to, and deserve to, learn just as much as students in wealthy districts do. In providing greater resource equity, any regulations need to increase opportunities for all students, so each child has the support, resources, one-on-one attention and well-rounded curriculum that he deserves.

"School districts and communities should look at the best school in their state for students and make those the benchmark to make sure all kids get what they need. Families move mountains to get their kids into the best schools, rightfully so. Now we need to make sure ALL kids have those opportunities—art, music, foreign languages, libraries with new books and great librarians, up-to-date science labs, regular PE, and other ingredients of a well-rounded education.

“The Department’s proposed regulations demonstrate its willingness to listen to practitioners given the additional flexibility and workforce protections. However, the proposal does not address all of our concerns. The proposed regulatory language, as compared to the original proposal, minimizes but does not eliminate the practical limitations and unintended consequences that may arise during implementation.
“Comparing expenditures among schools tells you little about the resource needs of the students in those schools. What matters is sufficient funding equitably distributed in order to provide each student with a meaningful opportunity to learn.

"Understanding the dollars and cents is just the beginning, however. It is essential to understand how that money is used to ensure students have what they need to pique their curiosity and prepare them for their future.

“ESSA has reinvigorated the national conversation about equal opportunity for all our students and opened a window to a new direction for our students and schools. We are headed in the right direction, but there is still work to be done. We need more funding for our public schools, especially for those serving students in need. All of our students deserve the opportunities we promised them."

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 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, cfbusser@nea.org