The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the cornerstone of the federal presence in K-12 education, and is designed to support programs to level the playing field for the most vulnerable, including children of poverty, students with disabilities, and English-language learners. A reauthorization of the ESEA is an opportunity to set a new vision of shared responsibility for a public education system that promotes opportunity, equity, and excellence for all students.
However, ESEA has not been reauthorized since passage of No Child Left Behind in 2002, but a serious effort to reauthorize is fully underway in the 114th Congress.
SENATE MOVING FIRST: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) have both delivered remarks from the Senate floor iterating the need to fix the broken law and outlining their principles for reauthorization. The HELP Committee has scheduled its first hearing for January 21st, which will cover testing, with further hearings expected in the following weeks. The HELP Committee will then markup the bill, before going to the full Senate, likely by the end of February. The House will also be moving quickly on ESEA reauthorization with a vote expected by the end of March.
NEA PRINCIPLES: Reauthorization of the ESEA is an opportunity to set a new vision of shared responsibility for a public education system that promotes opportunity, equity, and excellence for all students. In order to achieve these goals, Congress must focus on the following priorities:
• Creating a new generation accountability system that advances opportunity and excellence for all students by developing an "opportunity dashboard" of quality school indicators to support learning and expose opportunity gaps;
• ensuring more time for students to learn and teachers to teach, by reducing the number of federally-mandated tests and restoring "grade-span" testing — once in elementary, once in middle, and once in high school; and
• ensuring qualified educators for students and empower them to lead.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia welcomed the announcement to begin work on reauthorizing ESEA, "We are looking forward to working with Republicans, Democrats, the civil rights community, educators and other partners in ensuring that all students have equal educational opportunity—the original focus of ESEA. Our focus is on providing equal opportunity to every child so that they may be prepared for college and career. A child’s chances for success should not depend on living in the right zip code.
Read NEA’s full set of ESEA Reauthorization Principles here.
More About the No Child Left Behind Law
- How we must move forward on NCLB
- NCLB/ESEA--the lastest information on the federal education law from EducationVotes.org
- Educators and No Child Left Behind: It's time to speak up for students
E-mail Legislators about ESEA
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ESEA/NCLB Update Newsletters