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NEA Unveils Education Plan to Reshape Federal Role in Education

Presidential election could bring a new direction for public education

WASHINGTON - July 02, 2008 -

After six years of treating children as no more than test scores, No Child Left Behind has not lived up to its promise. Education policy needs a new direction. Today, the National Education Association unveiled a plan to transform all public schools by the year 2020 through redefining the federal role in education.

"Federal education policy needs more than a legislative tweak here and there," said Reg Weaver, NEA president. "A change in the White House must bring fundamental changes in how the federal government treats public education. The government must move beyond testing, labeling and punishing, and begin partnering with states to close achievement gaps for all students."

As reauthorization of NCLB stalls in Congress, and as opposition to the law continues to grow, it is clear that NCLB has failed. The law judges children based solely on standardized test scores at the expense of preparing them for the real world. And the law's obsessive focus on testing, without providing basic resources, has narrowed the curriculum.

NEA calls for a new federal role in education, with the government embracing its role as a supporter-not a manager-of state and district responsibilities. The federal government should support public schools by:

  • Strengthening enforcement of civil rights laws to promote access and opportunity;
  • Funding past congressional actions and current federal mandates; and
  • Helping create the capacity at the local and state levels for school transformation.

"The federal government has a critical role in public education, and should focus on equity, opportunity and targeted assistance to underserved communities," Weaver said. "At the same time, the government must respect the role of states and school districts as the primary providers of education services."

NEA's recommendations echo new policy proposals by groups such as the Economic Policy Institute, the Forum on Educational Accountability, and the American Association of School Administrators. NEA will use its role as a leader and advocate in bringing together organizations and coalitions to work with the new administration and the next Congress.

Senator Barack Obama sent a letter to NEA members supporting the policy proposals on transforming public education.

"I applaud the NEA for its efforts to frame the agenda outlined in Great Public Schools for Every Student by 2020," Obama said. "This document provides a roadmap for educators, elected officials, policymakers, and all who care deeply about the future of our children to consider and debate in the days ahead. And it provides critical starting points for a new educational compact."

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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: Will Potter  (202) 822-7823