What's in the New House ESEA Reauthorization Bills?

January 23, 2012

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has released two new draft ESEA reauthorization proposals – the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.  The proposals are expected to be considered by the Committee in a “mark-up” (where they will debate and amend the draft), which could take place as early as the end of this January.

NEA is very concerned that the drafts walk away from the traditional federal role of ensuring that every student has equal opportunity and access to a quality education regardless of where he or she lives.  We must find an appropriate balance of federal and state roles by refocusing on strong state accountability systems while continuing to maintain a sharp federal focus on equity across state and district lines.  Overall, we are concerned that the drafts tip the balance too far toward the states by failing to provide for a clear federal role in ensuring equity for students most in need, namely children living in poverty, English language learners, and students with disabilities.
Specific pros in the drafts include:

  • Continuation of the disaggregation of data to track achievement of minority students and students with special needs
  • Reduction in some of the federal micromanagement of accountability systems
  • Allowing more locally-developed models for turning around struggling schools, rather than a narrow, prescriptive list from a federal level
  • Allowance for more appropriate testing of students with disabilities so an IEP team can decide what assessment is educationally appropriate for a particular student
  • Better alignment of academic standards and assessments for English Language Learners.

However, the drafts also have some very troubling provisions, including:

  • Allowing the potential for federal funds to flow to private schools through vouchers
  • Eliminating requirements that states maintain their level of spending on K-12 education
  • A continued reliance on standardized testing to measure student achievement without consideration of the multiple measures needed for an accurate and effective accountability system 
  • Capping the amount of funds that can be used to reduce class sizes 
  • Problematic federal mandates in the area of teacher evaluation
  • Eliminating almost all language protecting collective bargaining and the ability of educators to have a voice in teaching and learning condition. 

NEA believes that any reauthorization proposal must be judged by how well it focuses on equity, supports educators, supports struggling schools, and helps ensure that public education thrives. 

Take Action Today:  Educators working in schools and classrooms across the country are the best and most effective voices to ensure a good ESEA reauthorization bill.  Your experience and expertise are critical to the debates in Congress and policymakers need to hear what you have to say.  Contact your Representative today to give your thoughts about what will work best for your students and school.

This article was originally published by the National Education Association.  It is adapted and reprinted here with permission.



I wish this article had a more detaelid explanation as to why the amendment was/is important rather than just it would support school libraries . The heart of the issue was/is the SKILLS (Strengthening Kids Interest in Learning and Library) Act. This bill makes federal funding for school libraries (at all K-12 education levels) specifically easier to get, offers professional development for educators that focuses on information literacy, digital literacy, the melding of various content areas with literacy skills, creates access to library-related grants and makes funding for poorer school districs a little easier and fairer to get, among other benefits. While the SKILLS Act is not officially dead, it is on life support at least during this Congress. The focus should be here but alsoon the Library Services and Technology Act which is the main government funding source for libraries in America. Because of the mandated spending cuts, coming either from the Super Comittee or by default cuts, LSTA will be a target; it was last year when only billions were cut, not 1.2 trillion. Putting pressure on lawmakers and starting a full court press to minimize the damage to LSTA should start NOW .waiting until the Spring is not enough time.