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Education Groups to Congress: Please Do Your Job and Reauthorize ESEA

The leadership drama in Congress may be taking up a lot of political oxygen, but 10 education groups don't want lawmakers to take their eye off reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

In a Sept. 29 letter to four key education leaders in Congress, those groups, including the two national teachers' unions and the organization representing state schools chiefs, said that there's huge demand for them to put the final touches on legislation that would renew the ESEA. They also stress the importance of preserving the federal education law's focus on low-income students, equity, and high-quality education for all students.

The letter is addressed to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. Alexander and Kline are chairmen of their chambers' respective education committees. (Murray and Scott are the ranking members on their respective education committees.) 

The House and Senate each approved a version of an ESEA rewrite in July, the Student Success Act and the Every Child Achieves Act. The two bills are now in a conference committee where lawmakers will negotiate a final version of the legislation to take back to their colleagues for consideration. 

"Great progress has already been made as both chambers have passed their own ESEA proposals," the groups told the four lawmakers. "Now is the time to finish the job and produce a final product that takes the best of both bills and reauthorizes the outdated NCLB. Students cannot wait any longer for a revised law."

The 10 groups to sign onto the letter are the:

  • American Federation of Teachers
  • National Education Association
  • American Association of School Administrators
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Association of School Business Officials International
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National School Boards Association
  • National PTA
  • National Association of State Boards of Education

Read the full letter below:

As it happens, Sept. 29 has been a busy day for ESEA advocacy efforts.

The same day those groups sent the letter, the advocacy group Education Trust urged the public to call members of Congress and urge them "to maintain strong accountability" in any ESEA reauthorization.

And the National Governors Association put out its own principles for what it would like to see the conference committee accomplish. These include:

  • "Ensure a Role for Governors in ESEA"
  • "Allow States to Fuel Statewide Innovation with Title II"
  • "Help States Support English-Language Learners"

Read the NGA's full list of principles for ESEA reauthorization below:

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