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ESEA Committee Chair Calls For Delegate Advocacy

Christy Levings, the chair of the National Education Association's ESEA Advisory Committee, gave union members an update today on the NEA's progress in advancing changes to the law, currently known as No Child Left Behind.

Her presentation was notable more for calling on the delegates to the NEA's Representative Assembly to beef up their lobbying than for any specifics she provided on the union's progress so far. It was clear, though, that the union does not want to see the Race to the Top or the Education Department's four school-turnaround models included in the rewrite.

"We need to get ESEA done the right way. Just because ARRA [the economic-stimulus legislation that created the Race to the Top] exists does not mean that the language of ESEA has already been written," Levings said. "Congress enacts the legislation, not the Department [of Education]. That means being and staying vigilant. "

And it means that delegates and rank-and-file teachers need to be actively involved in lobbying to change the law, she said.

Delegates were asked to fill out postcards to send to their congressional delegations stating what they would like to see in a renewed law. NEA has often been accused of criticizing things it doesn't like without offering alternative solutions, so it's interesting to see that this effort takes a positive approach.

In general, the union wants the new ESEA to boost parental involvement, change the accountability system, protect teachers' bargaining rights, and let students demonstrate what they've learned in multiple ways. You can read my recent story on the union's approach if you want all the details.

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