Amidst discussion of the long overdue renewal of the nation’s federal education bill, the Center for American Progress Action Fund discussed a new report, “A Way Forward” outlining its recommendations for revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA.
The report, which focuses on why federal investment in education is critical to economic growth, explains how we must make education the foundation for building the middle class and ensuring U.S. global competitiveness. The paper was released today at a Center for American Progress Action Fund event featuring key players in the reauthorization discussion.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA), American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, former Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling, and Education Trust’s Amy Wilkins anchored the discussion about where the critical education legislation sits, and what needs to happen to move forward.
“We’re working off a 10 year old roadmap and the landscape has completely changed,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee. “I’ve been in Congress for 37 years—I know the challenges, I know the battles, I bear some of the scars but I’m still standing here telling you we have to get this bill done.”
Similarly, Secretary Duncan outlined the Obama administration’s efforts to push Congress to reauthorize ESEA this year and measures the Department of Education is considering in the event the bill does not move.
“We desperately want Congress to reauthorize, but if they don’t we need to think about what we can do to provide states who are really driving reform the flexibility to move forward and not have them get crushed by the current law,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the event.
Regardless of when ESEA reauthorization takes place, CAP recommends specific actions to improve American schools including:
*Holding all schools accountable for getting results with all students
*Investing in teachers and principals so that they become more skilled and effective
*Making funding practices more fair and efficient so that every student gets a fair shot at having an effective teacher and adequate resources
*Targeting support to low-performing schools, including expanding learning time and providing nonacademic services that meet all student needs
*Investing in innovative practices that bring American schools into the 21st century
“We need ESEA to be reauthorized this year in order to fix the significant problems with NCLB and to ensure all students have a fair shot at a better education, a better job, and a better future,” said Cynthia Brown, Vice President for Education Policy at the Center for American Progress.