Last month Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, released two draft discussion bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act would increase state and local control over education. In the process, however, the proposals would weaken equity provisions in the law designed to ensure historically disadvantaged students get a fair shot at a good education.
ESEA, currently titled the No Child Left Behind Act, is the nation’s largest public education law, and its reauthorization is far past due. The decade-old law needs immediate repair:
- It identifies schools as “in need of improvement” whether they missed achievement targets by a little or a lot.
- It prescribes interventions for those schools, but the interventions are not showing results.
- It ensures teachers have credentials to enter the profession but does not ensure they are effective with students in the classroom.
The next version of ESEA should look markedly different from the current one, and such significant change will require bipartisan efforts. Rep. Kline’s highly partisan proposals would so weaken equity provisions, however, that bipartisan negotiations broke down.
CAP’s new issue brief, "Cut and Run" by Jeremy Ayers and Raegen Miller, outlines specific ways the Kline bills would undermine how historically disadvantaged students are treated and how schools with low-income students are funded. The brief concludes with a progressive vision for how ESEA could be reauthorized in ways that do promote equity.
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