ESEA: Where Were *You* When NCLB Got Rewritten?
Whatever your position on NCLB, or the Harkin-Enzi bill, or the Duncan waiver plan, there's one thing that seems really clear: Many of those who are (or could) be major players in the debate over federal education policy have yet not come anywhere close to exerting their full influence. This is unfortunate, given that time is short (see Alyson Klein EdWeek story here) and the logistics are complicated (see Joy Resmovits here). We could end up with current law, or waivers, or -- who knows? Michelle Rhee seems to have been ramping up her activities on the reauthorization front, including an email (see below) from last week calling on members to oppose Harkin-Enzi in its entirety. Several other notables (Stand For Children, 50CAN) are absent from the field of battle, insofar as press releases, priority letters, or other declarations would seem to indicate. Others (Diane Ravitch, BBA, PAA) are taking positions so far outside the debate that no one involved in crafting legislation will take them seriously. Many (TFA, the Alliance, NSVF) are focusing on narrow issues of self-interest such as the highly qualified teacher definitions, the expansion of ESEA into high schools, or the creation of a new principal leadership initiative. It's a strategy that is understandable enough but raises issues of leadership. What is the point of building organization capacity and political capital if not to use them? How can education advocates call on educators and administrators and politicians to look beyond their own immediate self-interests without doing so themselves?
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 11:10 AM
Subject: A giant step backward
America's students are depending on us to hold their schools accountable and ensure that every child has access to a great education. We need your help to make sure the Senate committee that oversees education doesn't let our students down.
Democratic and Republican leaders put their differences aside a decade ago and passed a landmark education law that emphasized high standards and expectations. We have since learned important lessons about how we can improve No Child Left Behind. But fixing what's wrong with the law can't mean scrapping the essential idea that all kids deserve an equally great education.
Senator Harkin took an important step forward by introducing an NCLB reform bill that required rigorous and fair evaluations of the teachers of all our children. After intense lobbying this past weekend by special interests, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (H.E.L.P.) Committee released a rewrite of the bill removing these important provisions. By removing meaningful evaluations, the country would be taking huge step backward in the effort to reform our schools.
In requiring that only some educators have meaningful evaluations, the legislation sets up an unfair, two-tiered system where only some children would have access to teachers who receive meaningful feedback and are held accountable for their work.
We've come a long way in education reform. For too long, there has been a focus on the needs of grownups in the system rather than on the needs of kids in our classrooms. That thinking has started to shift, and we have to keep up this momentum. The Senate legislation in its current form would move us in the wrong direction.
Tell the H.E.L.P. Committee that you won't let us go backward:http://studentsfirst.org/reform-NCLB