To the Editor:
Based on our institutional experience as an advocacy organization, Congress appears to be designed not to pass countless laws, but rather to stop bad laws from being passed. The recent trend for Congress to see things over-the-line only when it is backed into a corner—witness the legislating-through-crisis budget battles of late—has proved detrimental to the nation’s schools, as educators languish under No Child Left Behind, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that is now nearly eight years past due for reauthorization.
Fortunately, the trend ended this summer for education, as the House and the Senate passed reauthorization proposals for the ESEA through their respective chambers. For the first time in nearly 14 years, Congress is poised to advance a conference bill to the president’s desk, where he can sign into law an updated ESEA that provides relief from the broken, outdated tenets of current law.
We commend Congress. These efforts reflect a deliberate effort to focus on our nation’s schools and the students they serve. These actions truly put kids first.
We agree with many others that education is the civil rights issue of this generation. Education is an unparalleled lever out of poverty. This is a prime opportunity to invest in and support the needs of the students who require our help the most.
Complete reauthorization, when done right, will involve compromise, which, by definition, means everyone will be a little unhappy. This is unavoidable, because education support has no room for zero-sum, my-way-or-the-highway policies.
ESEA reauthorization represents an opportunity to breathe new life into federal education policy, incorporating the latest research and on-site experience into efforts to improve outcomes and eliminate achievement gaps. We stand ready to work with policymakers as they continue to move forward with those efforts. Our students want and deserve more.
Daniel A. Domenech
AASA, The School Superintendents Association
A version of this article appeared in the August 19, 2015 edition of Education Week as A Thank You to Congress on ESEA Reauthorization