Groups Call for Strong ESEA Reauthorization

Categories: Education, News

On April 13, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 41 other national organizations sent a letter to Sens. Lamar Alexander, R. Tenn., and Patty Murray, D. Wash., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, outlining their thoughts and concerns about the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, which is set to be marked up tomorrow.

The Every Child Achieves Act is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), passed in 1965 to help ensure educational opportunities for all children, and was last reauthorized in 2001 as the No Child Left Behind Act.

While the letter applauds the bipartisan effort in drafting a strong education bill, it calls for the bill to be improved by strengthening accountability for student outcomes, providing additional data on student groups, addressing disparities in resources, and providing a more meaningful federal role in education.

The Every Child Achieves Act is a significant improvement from the draft education bill offered by Alexander in January, but it lacks meaningful accountability for the states. The bill requires robust reporting on student achievement, but does not require states to act on the basis of that information. The letter underlines the need for states to be required to act and address gaps in achievement and disparities in resources.

On the 50th anniversary of the ESEA, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, underlined the weaknesses of the Every Child Achieves Act, and called for Congress to pass a strong ESEA reauthorization.

“This proposal rolls back federal oversight and accountability for student outcomes, fails to make progress on the equitable distribution of resources, and doesn’t collect important data about the communities we represent,” Henderson said. “Congress must reauthorize a strong ESEA that protects children and civil rights. We cannot turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made; any reauthorization that is weaker than current law should not move forward.”