NABSE's Legislative Agenda for the 111th Congress
As the country ushers in the 111th Congress and a new Democratic Congressional majority, it is time to report on the work of the 110th Congress within the construct of education.
Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1964
(Known as NCLB Public Law 107-110)
The Democratic controlled Education Committee in the House, chaired by George Miller (D - California) and the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy (D - Massachusetts) were unable to blaze a path for the reauthorization of the bill. Despite the good intentions and hard work of the staffs of both committees, there was an inability to forge bipartisan agreement. The best estimate for reauthorization is FY 2010. Various reports suggest that the law has been cumulatively under funded by $85.6 billion since it was enacted.
President Elect Obama's education team will undoubtedly put a stamp on the role of the NCLB. However, it is the opinion of your government's liaison that the old adage: "The President proposes and Congress disposes," will probably be in play during the deliberation of ESEA in the 111th Congress. During the campaign, President Elect Obama's education advisors put forth the following ideas:
- Performance pay initiative offering federal financing to districts that negotiate performance pay programs with teacher unions.
- Bonuses for veteran teachers who help new colleagues.
- $18 billion in new funds on early childhood teacher recruitment.
- Continued emphasis on the high standards and accountability.
- Double federal spending on public charter schools.
It is interesting to note that according to Peter C. Groff, a Democratic President of the Colorado Senate, a new cadre of African American politicians under the age of 50 is challenging the Democratic Party to do more to offer greater choice of options among public schools. [Read More]
We argue that public schools and public education historically have been the bedrock of our country's robust democratic institutions. We therefore believe that among the federal roles the ideal of equity must remain. Excellence is undermined if equity is ignored.
The Reauthorization Agenda of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965
- We support full funding of Title I. The current appropriation provides a one time stimulus infusion into the Title I funding foundation. It still leaves a significant number of districts not funded at a level commensurate with the needs of the population.
- We support accountability. In fact we believe that schooling for all students should be geared toward high and rigorous standards. However, we observe that standards and accountability have become equated with measures and initiatives that impose a retributive penalty framework rather than a supportive framework. We have signed on to the joint organizational statement (FEA) on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) submitted to Congress and updated on July 18, 2008. We strongly recommend that states be able to develop multiple measures of accountability. We ask that Congress consider the rationale put forth by Jane Herman of CRESST.
- We support Targeted and Sustained investment, at the federal level, to assure financial equity and human capital equity for every public school student.
- We support Programs of Professional Development for Educational Leaders.
- We will support Congresspersons (and work cogently and effectively with them) who will assure that Congress provide substantive funding to prevent further educational crisis for students of African descent.
- We support the continuation and expansion of the E-Rate. The E-rate program continues to make advanced telecommunications services affordable to our nation's schools and libraries.
- We support federal legislative language that maintains the state's "statutory and constitutional" role of responsibility for its citizens' education at the local level. However, we advocate that states and local institutions be held accountable for all our citizens' civil rights.
- We support language that discusses school improvement but provides sufficient time for plans to take hold before applying any form of sanction and that the sufficient time required in this statue be based on rigorous research.
- We support choice for parents who are within the public sector including public charter and magnet schooling. However, we are concerned that each state recognize and consider the extent to which the state's policies support of charter schools are in fact parallel with non-charter public schools.
- We expect that no high-stakes construct will be put in place until there are more advances in high stake resources that provide equitable and educationally-relevant resources for all needy districts and schools.
- We support programs and appropriate measures of school-to-work transition especially for targeted groups.
WE OPPOSE ANY CHOICE OR VOUCHER PROGRAMS THAT USES PUBLIC TAXPAYERS' DOLLARS FOR PRIVATE, FAITH-BASED AND, / OR PAROCHIAL EDUCATION AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOL EDUCATION, EVEN WHEN THE DOLLARS ARE TARGETED TO A SELECT NUMBER OF POOR CHILDREN AND PARTICULARLY CHILDREN OF COLOR.
- We support research as a lever for informing and influencing policy and legislation. But we would request that Congress review all research from diverse perspectives in a bipartisan way, not just research that supports a particular perspective.
- We support the strengthening of Higher Education by strengthening teacher preparation programs through support for quality interventions including distance learning and through strengthening student grants for teachers of high caliber to work in poor communities.
- We support new legislation within the reauthorization of ESEA that would renew the teacher core program. Included in its purpose, but not limited to, is a renewal and commitment to recruiting and finding teachers who are among the best, the brightest, and the most nurturing.
- We are seeking support from Congress to invest in a pilot dual-language program (different from mono-foreign language programs) for elementary school students, and that such pilot programs specifically be authorized and appropriated in the reauthorization of ESEA, within the Title I construct. We further recommend, that in the interest of equity, that such programs be authorized for schools with targeted Title I funds.