As the National Education Association’s annual convention gets started, the nation’s largest teachers’ union unveiled its plan to fix schools by 2020. The crux: get rid of the No Child Left Behind Act, diminish the federal role in education while still giving states lots of money.
More specifically, the NEA wants the federal government to focus grant money on recruiting, training, and supporting teachers in hard-to-staff schools, better fund Title I and special education, and require states to develop adequacy and equity plans to address funding disparities among school districts. The six-point plan also calls for revamping accountability systems to take into account socio-economic factors (such as access to health care in high-poverty schools), improving education research by decoupling the Institute of Education Sciences from the Education Department, and supporting the federal role as a clearinghouse for good school-reform ideas.
In return, the NEA commits to supporting a national White House-sponsored education summit, helping to design public-engagement programs to drive school reform in states, helping states develop new accountability systems with less focus on standardized testing, and better partnering with the U.S. Department of Education.
In a press release, the NEA says that Sen. Barack Obama (who will address the convention on July 5) likes the plan, describing it in a letter as “critical starting points for a new educational compact.” I can’t post the letter--the NEA won’t hand it out because officials say they can’t use members’ dues to distribute campaign material. But as soon as we get it from the campaign, we’ll post it here.
Expect more insight on this from my colleagues and fellow bloggers David Hoff and Vaishali Honawar (who is live-blogging the NEA convention.) UPDATE: Read Vaishali’s take here and The Hoff’s take here.