Equity & Diversity Opinion

Open Letter to Federal Leadership Re: Comprehensive Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind

By Betsy Landers — November 13, 2012 2 min read
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Dear President Obama, Majority Leader Reid, Senator McConnell, Speaker Boehner, and Leader Pelosi:

I write to you as a mother, advocate, and President of National PTA, the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer child advocacy organization comprising more than five million members across all fifty states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, US Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense schools in Europe.

On behalf of millions of parents, teachers, administrators, and community members who fight for all children every day, we urge you to join us in prioritizing education by coming together to reauthorize and fix No Child Left Behind (NCLB). We’ve waited long enough. The election is now behind us, and as we look toward 2013 and the dawn of a new Congress, PTA calls on you for bipartisan leadership to better serve our schools, families, and communities.

Compromise is hard, especially in this divisive climate, but I remind you that it’s been done before. NCLB is the seventh iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and all seven iterations have been reached through collaborative exchange, meaningful dialogue, and thought leadership from both Republicans and Democrats. Both parties share ownership of the successes and failures experienced under current law, and it is incumbent on both parties to fix what’s broken and invest wisely in what we know works. Partisanship will not produce better student outcomes or improve struggling schools.

We have been waiting far too long. As 2012 slips away, our nation will be celebrating the eleventh anniversary of NCLB enactment. 2013 marks the sixth year of Congressional inaction on reauthorization on ESEA. Simply put, this is unacceptable. You know this and we know this. And while inaction may not touch you or all the members of your respective caucuses personally, please rest assured that the impact is far-reaching and heavy-handed. Our nation’s schools are struggling under the weight of outdated, inflexible provisions. Teachers and administrators struggle to do more with less in the face of rising economic hardship and implementation of innovative reforms. Parents and families yearn for quality public schools serving every child in every neighborhood, regardless of zip code.

All of us are fighting for the same thing: a public education system that fully prepares all children for college and career, while enabling them to realize their full potential. The goal seems simple, but the road to achieving that goal is anything but. Families are counting on you — our elected leadership — for a roadmap to success. PTA recognizes the importance of state and local decision-making when it comes to educating kids. No two school districts are alike. We also recognize the need for a well-defined and appropriate federal role that safeguards equity and continues to promote opportunity for all students. PTA believes bipartisan compromise is a necessary means to achieve these ends.

NCLB is in desperate need of serious revisions that can only result from legislative action. PTA is advocating for every child with one voice, working to improve schools and communities, and bolster student outcomes. We look forward to close collaboration with Republicans and Democrats alike in an effort to achieve comprehensive reauthorization. Parents, students, teachers, and administrators need and deserve a fully-functioning federal education law that encourages and rewards innovation while safeguarding access to quality education for all children.


Betsy Landers


National PTA

Views expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or any of its members.
The opinions expressed in Transforming Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.