December 02, 2015

Reauthorization of ESEA an overdue reset of federal education policy

Source:  NYSUT Media Relations
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ALBANY, N.Y. Dec. 2, 2015 - New York State United Teachers today said the bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is a long-overdue reset of federal education policy that fixes many of the problems created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

Most notably, the House is de-linking student test scores from teacher evaluations and taking the federal government out of teacher evaluations entirely.

NYSUT said unrelenting advocacy by parents, educators and its national affiliates - the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association - convinced the House to change course and, in the reauthorization of ESEA, clearly value teaching and learning over test-prep, high-stakes testing and accountability based on standardized test scores.

NYSUT said the new bill preserves ESEA's original intent of mitigating poverty and targeting funding to students in need; maintains the federal government's investment in early childhood education; and recognizes that states should control standards, curriculum and assessments, interventions for struggling schools and teacher evaluations. It also strengthens collective bargaining protections, protects certification requirements for paraprofessionals and introduces a fairer way of measuring progress by English language learners.

The 600,000-plus member NYSUT said:

"While not perfect, the reauthorization of ESEA - now called the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 - can lead to a welcome new path for New York. It may not happen immediately, but under this bill, individual states - not the federal government - will have much greater flexibility to decide what their teacher evaluation and accountability systems look like and how they will work. Federal funding will no longer be predicated on requiring student test scores to be used in teacher evaluations. More than a decade of bad federal education policy has led to a narrowing of the curriculum and increasing test prep. It has sparked outrage among parents and teachers and fueled the largest 'opt out' movement in the nation. This change means NCLB and Race to the Top will no longer be feeding the 'test-and-punish' beast here in New York state.

"It is clear from this final bill that the pendulum on testing and accountability systems is finally swinging back in the direction of sanity in public education policy. While encouraging, our work is not done. Tenacious advocacy will continue in Albany. Still, today is proof that the voices of parents and teachers, united in fighting for what's best for students and classrooms, do indeed make a difference.

With the House vote, we now look forward to a similar outcome in the Senate and President Obama's signature."

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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