Fortunately, it’s not over yet. The next stop is conference where Senators and Representatives will reconcile the differences between S. 1177 and H.R. 5 and produce a compromise bill that will be voted on in both the House and Senate. As a recap, here’s a rundown of how our priority amendments fared on the Senate floor and what we’ll be watching in conference: Read more »
Imagine you’re a supervisor. You’ve set performance goals for all of your employees, and it’s evaluation season. One of the people you supervise has not been reaching her benchmarks. What do you do? Do you work with that employee to come up with strategies for achieving her performance goals? Or do you say, “Well, just keep doing what you’re doing. Maybe it’ll come out better next year”? You would probably work with your employee to improve her performance.
Shockingly, S. 1177—somewhat ironically named the Every Child Achieves Act—takes the opposite approach. The bill, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), requires states to develop accountability systems that measure whether their schools are doing a good job teaching all students. But, where a school’s accountability system reveals that certain “subgroups” of students (like African Americans or students with disabilities) are falling behind, the state and the school are under no obligation to do anything to help those students meet state benchmarks.
Congress has an Opportunity to Fix the Problem Read more »
Middle school and high school can be brutal for anyone who does not fit the mold of whatever it means to be “cool.” But, it can be particularly rough for students who are questioning their sexuality or coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). And, today youth are coming out at younger and younger ages. In addition to realizing their lives don’t quite match the fairytales they grew up with or heteronormative media messages that surround them, these students often attend schools that openly discriminate against them based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and choose to ignore the harassment they face from their peers.
Federal civil rights statutes expressly prohibit discrimination in education based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disability. However, these laws do not explicitly cover sexual orientation or gender identity. Even though the Department of Education says that Title IX should protect students from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, because the law does not explicitly protect LGBT students, these students and their parents often have limited legal recourse when their schools ignore discrimination (including bullying and harassment) based on LGBT (or suspected LGBT) status.
When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law 50 years ago, it acknowledged one of our nation’s most fundamental civil right principles—that all children deserve access to a high-quality education, regardless of their race, income, sex, or other circumstances. To its credit, when Congress reauthorized ESEA as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2002, it recommitted to that principle by requiring states to account for the performance of the most disadvantaged students.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, July 8th, the Senate passed the High School Data Transparency Act (S.Amdt.2124) by a voice vote as an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act (a bill that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)). The data act, which would help ensure that girls have equal access to athletic opportunities, is now part of the ESEA reauthorization bill pending before the Senate. Senator Murray’s amendment had four other co-sponsors: Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
Last year I had the privilege of working as a Jumpstart Corps Member in a preschool that served low-income families, where almost all of the students were African American or Latina/o. I miss those kids every day, and what is even more painful is knowing that many of these smart, lovable children are going to attend under-resourced schools, where they are less likely to have access to advanced courses and are more likely to be subject to excessive discipline practices. That kind of unequal access to meaningful educational opportunities isn’t fair, and it’s a huge civil rights issue.
Yesterday, the Senate HELP Committee voted to advance the Every Child Achieves Act out of committee. This bill would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the major federal K-12 education bill. Although the bill passed out of committee unanimously, several members expressed concern that the bill did not include core civil rights protections for disadvantaged students.
We echo those concerns and hope that if the bill advances to the floor, the Senate adds the following measures to ensure all students have access to a quality education: Read more »
For three hours yesterday afternoon, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) met to debate and offer amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act—a bipartisan compromise to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The ESEA is the major federal K-12 education-funding bill that was last amended in 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act. Here’s a quick rundown of where things stand after yesterday’s markup: Read more »
Last week, Senate HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray released the Every Child Achieves Act—their proposal to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the major federal K-12 education bill, which was designed to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students. Markup of the bill in the Senate HELP committee starts today and is likely to continue at least through Friday. And while the proposed bipartisan bill is better than the discussion draft Senator Alexander released earlier this year, it doesn’t do enough to ensure the most disadvantaged students get the resources they need to learn. Here are three of the reasons why: Read more »
The President wants to devote $1.365 billion in FY2016 to America’s College Promise, a new program that would make up to two years of tuition free for students enrolled at least half-time in a community college. According to the recently released U.S. Department of Education’s FY2016 budget, the cost of the program would increase as more students took advantage of it, to $60.3 billion over ten years. But that’s a modest investment that would make college more affordable for low- and middle-income families—particularly for women, who make up 56% of community college students and 66% of the low-wage workplace.
A college degree can provide a pathway out of low-paying jobs and into fields with higher pay and more opportunities for professional growth. That’s a no-brainer. Yet, the rising cost of tuition has meant that many students must either forgo college or rely on student loans, which can mean devoting high percentages of post-college earnings to loan repayment. This imposes a particular burden on women, who are paid less than men, even with a college degree. On average, women who borrow to attend community college take out $2,000 more in student loans than men at community colleges do. Read more »