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Congress Needs to Reauthorize ESEA

Congress should move forward on education reform by reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, to ensure all children achieve their greatest potential.

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Congress has the opportunity to move forward on education reform by reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, to ensure all children achieve their greatest potential. Unfortunately, it has yet to find the will to do so, to the detriment of our nation’s students and schools.

ESEA is the largest and most significant federal education law supporting public schools. ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind, was due to be reauthorized in 2007. Congress has the opportunity to fix numerous flaws in NCLB and to build on positive change due to new, innovative programs already underway in many places. Political events and calculations, however, threaten to stymie the law’s renewal.

"A Way Forward," a new paper from CAP’s Education Team, outlines a smart, progressive vision for moving forward with the reauthorization of ESEA. The stakes are high, both for our nation’s students and our economic growth and competitiveness. Raising achievement levels in the United States to those of other industrialized nations could increase our GDP by trillions of dollars.

Following core principles of federal education policy, the paper proposes significant policy changes on topics such as teachers and principals, funding, school improvement, and innovation. There are many important issues that impact schools and students in a large, complex law such as ESEA, and an astute reader will notice the paper does not address all of them. The authors focused their recommendations on those topics critical to advancing progressive education goals.

For more on this topic, please see:

  • A Way Forward by Jeremy Ayers and Cynthia Brown, with Ulrich Boser, Raegen Miller, and Theodora Chang

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

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