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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Congress' ESEA Reauthorization

Late last week, the Senate passed S. 1177, its reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). As we have noted before, ESEA has historically been a major civil rights bill meant to ensure access to a high-quality education, regardless of a student’s race, income, sex, or other circumstances. Unfortunately, both S. 1177 and H.R. 5 (the House reauthorization that passed the week before) fall short.

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 »

Senate Education Bill Lets Schools Ignore Disadvantaged Kids

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 »

House Effort to Rewrite No Child Left Behind Gets an F

Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 5, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Since its enactment 50 years ago, the goal of the ESEA has been to make sure all children—including disadvantaged children—have access to a quality education.  ESEA was last amended as No Child Left Behind in 2001. And although the law is long overdue for a rewrite, it has been crucial in uncovering gaps in achievement between certain groups of students. The National Women’s Law Center, with a coalition of more than 40 civil right organizations, has laid out principles that must be included in a reauthorized ESEA, including transparent and meaningful reporting of data. Read more »


Data Silos Threaten the Purpose of ESEA

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.  

For the first time, districts and states had to report student performance and graduation rates by race/ethnicity, sex, disability status, English proficiency, economic status, and migrant status.  It was one of the most important and positive changes that NCLB brought about.  After all, how can ESEA live up to its promise without data on which groups of students are excelling and which are falling behind?   Read more »

ESEA: Rally Time for Equity in Sports

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). 

Read more »

ESEA Bill Advances: Fix It, Congress

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 »

Rewriting No Child Left Behind: Committee Mark-Up Day 1

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 »

What's Missing From the Senate's Bipartisan ESEA Proposal?

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 »