In the first days of the 114th Congress, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)—chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions—placed K-12 education at the top of his agenda. His goal is to quickly reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA—currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act—and, ultimately, to dismantle what he calls the “national school board.” Chairman Alexander’s bill—the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act—largely cuts back on the federal role in public education and weakens state accountability to raise achievement and close achievement gaps.
Most egregiously, the bill proposed by Chairman Alexander eliminates the targeting of federal dollars to schools and districts with the highest concentrations of low-income students. This approach ignores the long-known fact that socioeconomic isolation has a devastating impact on student learning and achievement outcomes. Simply put, the challenges that low-income students face are significantly greater when the majority of their classmates are also low income.
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