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Every Child Achieves Act Betrays ESEA's Rich Civil Rights Legacy and Must be Fixed!

Thursday, July 02, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall
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TAKE Action NOW to Support Strong Accountability for Students  




Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) have been working to craft a bi-partisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) was approved by the HELP Committee in late April.  The bill contains significant improvements for students with disabilities from the original draft partisan draft that was released in January.  These include maintaining the 1% cap on the use of alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, annual assessments of all students in grades 3-8 and once in high school in reading and math, prohibition on states developing additional alternate or modified standards for students with disabilities, and requiring that students with disabilities are involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum so that they have a better chance to graduate with a regular diploma.

However, the current reauthorization of the Senate ESEA bill, the Every Child Achieves Act, betrays the law’s rich civil rights legacy and would actually weaken protections for the students it’s intended to serve. And the House’s proposal is abhorrent and would be an unmitigated disaster for vulnerable students.

We know that the Every Child Achieves Act can be improved on the Senate floor with four fixes that would expand opportunities, resources, and outcomes for all students. 

As Senators head home for the 4th of July holiday (June 29-July 6), drop by their offices and share your concerns with them about the education bill. Give them our letter urging the U.S Senate to include four key fixes (see below) to the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA – S. 1177).

Or Call 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senators and urge them to support the subgroup accountability amendment.

Talking Points you Can Use

To ensure equal opportunity in education for all children, the Every Child Achieves Act must be fixed by: 

  • Strengthening accountability for student outcomes; including requiring action when groups of students,including students with disabilities, are not meeting state standards.

  • Providing additional data on student subgroups and requiring action if they lag behind or fail to meet state standards. The current Senate proposal lets schools and districts off the hook from narrowing the massive gaps in opportunity and achievement for students of color, students with disabilities, Native students, low-income students, and English learners. Ensuring a level playing field in education should be America’s number one priority to ensure a strong and vibrant future.

  •  Addressing disparities in resources - ESEA must require states to intervene to correct the massive resource disparities that plague our nation’s schools. Districts that predominately serve students of color receive approximately $2,000 less per student than districts that predominately serve White students. This leads to our students being taught in substandard facilities by underqualified teachers using old textbooks and outdated technology. 

  • Providing a more meaningful federal role in education. The Senate proposal strips the Department of Education of its authority to hold states and districts accountable for the federal money they receive. There must be accountability to make sure that funds serve the students who most need it and that the law is executed consistent with Congress’ intent.

Please take action now. As early as the week of July 6, the U.S. Senate could consider this bill to update – or reauthorize – the ESEA. It’s up to us to ensure that the Senate protects equal educational opportunities for all children by passing a reauthorized ESEA with these four important fixes.

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