Fight Back Friday: Student Success Act biggest oxymoron ever

UPDATE via NEA Education Votes:

House of Representatives narrowly passes flawed ESEA reauthorization

Members of the House of Representatives today passed the “Student Success Act” (H.R. 5), the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The measure passed 221–207, with no Democratic votes in support and 12 Republicans voting no on final passage. The National Education Association (NEA), which represents more than 3 million public school educators, opposed the bill in committee and raised concerns that it would erode the historical federal role in public education of targeting resources to marginalized student populations as a means of helping to ensure equity of opportunity for all students.

“While H.R. 5 contains some positive provisions, as a whole it erodes the historical federal role in public education—to be an enforcer of equity of opportunities, tools and resources so that we can level the playing field. Yet this House bill walks away from creating equity in education—and at a time when poor and disadvantage students and their families need it the most,” said Dennis Van Roekel, Arizona math teacher and NEA president.

Read the complete article here.

There is nothing in the proposed Student Success Act before Congress that will help students achieve. Please take the time to contact your representative in Congress to tell them how wrong it is. The vote is imminent.

Here’s an easy link for you to send a fax through NYSUT’s Member Action Center, urging lawmakers to improve the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The House switchboard number that can patch you through to your congressional representative is (202) 224-3121.

Here’s some more background.

Parents Across America also opposes the bill and asks the House to eliminate the NCLB requirement that students must be tested annually in every grade, 3-8th. PAA’s stance is that the federal government should also get out of the business of mandating how teachers are evaluated; and stop linking teacher evaluation to test scores, which is unreliable, unfair and damaging to the quality of education. Instead, PAA urges House members to “refocus on the federal role to increase equity; by requiring states to submit plans on how they will improve equitable funding, and especially omit the unconscionable provision in HR5 that limits the amount of Title II funds that districts can spend on class size reduction to only 10%.”

The Education Trust notes in this essay how the proposed legislation — put forward as part of the ESEA negotiations — will, in fact, seriously hurt children in low-income communities.

The Center for American Progress also says the bill is wrong and here’s its analysis of the many reasons why. Here’s one short excerpt, for your convenience:

The Student Success Act also removes federal requirements that ensure states and districts maintain their share of education funding from year to year. The “maintenance of effort” requirement in current law requires districts receiving Title I funds to spend at least 90 percent of what they spent in local and state dollars in the previous year. This provision is meant to prevent districts from slashing their education budgets unscrupulously and provides schools with some reliability in annual funding.
As we have warned previously, eliminating the maintenance-of-effort provision “is a recipe for converting federal funds into state and local tax relief,” and many of the arguments for eliminating the provision do not hold water. As House Republicans note themselves, current law already includes a great deal of flexibility for districts seeking relief from this requirement, including states and districts that face a severe funding shortfall due to the tough fiscal climate. In general, however, safeguarding funding for education in exchange for $14.5 billion in Title I dollars seems like a fair shake for districts and states that accept the federal support.

The AFT and NEA oppose the bill.

Please take the time to oppose this proposed legislation, which — despite its name — has nothing to do with student success. Take a look at who is supporting this proposal: The Council for American Private Education, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and the national School Boards Association. Again, here’s that link to NYSUT’s Member Action Center or call (202) 224-3121.

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