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Big Education Groups to Congress: Finish ESEA Reauthorization

By Alyson Klein — November 02, 2015 2 min read
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Attention members of Congress: You’ve come really far on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Please finish the job so schools don’t have to live under the very outdated and pretty much universally despised No Child Left Behind Act (aka the current version of ESEA) for yet another school year.

That’s the message ten big-name education organizations representing teachers, school administrators, principals and state officials are taking to Facebook, Twitter, Politico, and other media through a weeklong digital ad campaign.

Here’s a quote from the ad: “Please pass a final bill that focuses on opportunity for all students, no matter their ZIP code. Great progress has already been made on this legislation. We can’t let it slip away. Our students cannot wait any longer for a revised law.”

The groups include: the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Association of School Business Officials International, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National School Boards Association, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National PTA, and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

And when it comes to ESEA reauthorization, at least lately, these groups often get their way. Earlier this year, when it looked like the Senate version of the bill might be stalled, they wrote a letter to Senate leaders asking them to move the legislation forward, and then it was scheduled for a floor debate. And in July, they asked Congress to get going on negotiations to reconcile the two bills—and got their wish.

Quick refresher: ESEA reauthorization has been stalled since 2007. But earlier this year, the Senate overwhelming passed a bipartisan bill to rewrite the law, and a GOP-only measure barely skated through the House.

This fall, the staffers for all four key lawmakers working on K-12 issues—Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va.—have been putting in long hours to try to negotiate a deal that can make it through both houses of Congress and be signed by President Barack Obama, ideally by the end of the year.

Big issues under discussion have included finding the sweet spot on accountability, figuring out how many and which programs should stay in the law (including whether there should be a pre-kindergarten program), and deciding just how much power the U.S. Secretary of Education should have. More here.