Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Education Advocates Issue Statement as ESEA Mark-up Begins #Education

Today as the Senate HELP Committee begins the mark-up of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) issued the following statement:

“Fifty years after the enactment of the ESEA, this country has never provided even close to the resources that Congress itself identified as necessary to ensure that high-poverty schools and students had access to the education that all our children deserve.  The proposed ESEA reauthorization language in the Senate—unless adjusted through the HELP Committee mark-up process—fails once again to meet the needs of our most vulnerable students in these particular areas:

·       Full funding:  In 1965, Congress recognized that the federal government had a critical role to play in ensuring equity and justice, particularly for low-income, and students of color. It was Congress, at that time, which estimated that these students required supplemental support amounting to about 40% in addition to state per pupil spending. Title I of ESEA was designed to provide that targeted support.  We need Congress to move towards meeting that full funding goal.
·       Community Schools:  With appropriate resources, public schools—particularly in very low income communities—can address not only the need for rich academic content, but also for additional student supports like health care, tutoring, social and emotional supports and strong enrichment programs that help close the gap between the opportunities of the poor and those of more affluent students and communities.  That is why AROS is recommending a $1 billion commitment to the creation of sustainable community schools—a concept that is not realized in the current Senate proposal.
·       Reckless and unaccountable expansion of charter schools:  This proposal, as written, continues the role of the federal government as the nation’s largest funder of new charter schools, at a time when charter proliferation is actually hurting educational opportunity in many districts.   We are calling for a moratorium on federal funding for new charters until questions about the program’s accountability and impact are fully addressed.
·       Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline:  We must support educators, administrators, students and schools to change the culture of education and end the school-to-prison pipeline. The Senate bill takes a step in the right direction by requiring tracking and monitoring of school discipline disparities.  We are calling on Congress to target funding to restorative justice programs in ways that support schools as they transition away from zero-tolerance.

Working together, we can do better than the current language of the Senate ESEA proposal.  Today, when more than half of all public school children are living in poverty, and when the gap between the richest and poorest Americans is larger than ever, it is time for Congress to step up and do what’s right.  Public education is too important to force austerity budgets and to think that the answer can be found in cookie-cutter, Walmart-style schools. It’s time to invest more heavily in the schools that all our children deserve.”

On April 7th, the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools sent a letter to House and Senate Leadership, including four recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) is a national coalition of community and labor organizations working to strengthen public education and counter-act the effects of two decades of corporate-led reform efforts on high poverty schools and communities.

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