Dear Ms. Valens,
Thank you for writing to share your thoughts on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I appreciate the time you took to write, and welcome the opportunity to respond.
Since its enactment in 2001, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has provided educators and lawmakers with critical data demonstrating the strengths and weaknesses of America’s public education system. Fourteen years later, Congress is considering legislation to build on the provisions of NCLB that are working and amend those policies that have problems.
As you may know, the “Every Child Achieves Act” (S. 1177) is a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Public Law 107-110). The bill would give more control to states and local school districts, eliminating the one-size-fits-all requirements created by NCLB. The legislation would also preserve annual state-designed assessments to ensure teachers and parents have reliable achievement data, and make increased investments in the expansion of high-quality charter schools.
I share your belief that every student deserves a high-quality education, and I am pleased that a number of my provisions were included in the bill. These include:
Lastly, I also supported a provision to protect funding for large school districts that serve military-connected children; and to provide continued support for existing high-quality charter schools.
Please know that hearing your thoughts on how we can better serve our students is helpful to me. The “Every Child Achieves Act” passed the Senate by a vote of 81 – 17, and will be conferenced with the House reauthorization bill, the “Student Success Act” (H.R. 5).
Once again, thank you for your letter. If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C., office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.
Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the nation are available at my website, feinstein.senate.gov. And please visit my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for more ways to communicate with me.
I got a letter from Diane Feinstein today about the latest version of ESEA. sigh. I include it at the bottom of this post. Here is my response. May it inspire you to write your own.
Dear Senator Feinstein,
All the provisions you sponsored are worthy, but your statement that “No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has provided educators and lawmakers with critical data demonstrating the strengths and weaknesses of America’s public education system.” is disheartening. The data was there long before NCLB, in the form of underfunded and understaffed low income urban and rural schools, and the de-facto segregation of our city school systems. Poverty was and is the major defining difference in the educational opportunities for young Americans. The demoralizing pounding of standardized tests gave us no new information. If anything, it set back the small gains that had been in progress. It did strengthen the hands of those looking for ways to increase their bottom line on the backs of teachers (non-unionized charters) and poor families (rearranged budgetary priorities: more for test prep, less for the arts, field trips, counseling…)
From what I have read so far, Congress has made some modest progress in addressing the catastrophe public education in America has endured since 2000. There seems to be less focus on punishment in the legislation being sent to committee. But by leaving such a large burden of testing in place they have not basically altered the misdirection that NCLB sent us in. Your glee that the new law will “preserve annual state-designed assessments to ensure teachers and parents have reliable achievement data, and make increased investments in the expansion of high-quality charter schools.” convinces me you have not taken off the rose colored glasses for-profit organizations have been passing out.
I expected more from you.
retired California elementary school teacher
film co-producer: AUGUST TO JUNE, bringing Life to School
Good Morning Mission Hill: the freedom to teach, the freedom to learn