Closing schools Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Turnaround Schools

Evidence of How Little Congress Knows About Education

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As the Senate got close to a final vote on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Democrats pushed to restore a punitive accountability system, much like NCLB.

Edweek reports:

“In the afternoon, senators voted on and rejected one of the most high-profile amendments the chamber has considered in its six days of debate—a proposal from Democrats to beef up accountability measures in the underlying bill to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, the current version of the law.

“Among other things, the amendment would have required states to establish measurable state-designed goals for all students and separately for each of the categories of subgroups of students. It also would have required states to intervene in their lowest-performing 5 percent of schools and those that graduate less than 67 percent of their students.

“NCLB said a lot on this issue, and most of it wasn’t helpful,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., the principal author of the proposal. “But the amendment we’re offering takes a very different approach. This is an education bill, but it’s not a worthwhile bill unless it’s also a civil rights bill.”

“As we wrote Tuesday, Democrats weren’t expecting the amendment to pass. But they were hoping to cobble together 35 or more votes to show that strengthening accountability is a top priority going into conference with the House on its version of an ESEA overhaul.

“That way the Democrats, along with the dozen or so Republicans they anticipate voting against the bill no matter what, would be able to block final passage of a conferenced bill should it not include stronger accountability language.

“But the National Education Association threw a bit of a wrench in their plan when it came out in opposition to the amendment and urged senators to vote against it.

“The 3 million-member union argued that the amendment would “continue the narrow and punitive focus of NCLB and overidentify schools in need of improvement, reducing the ability of states to actually target help to schools that need the most assistance to help students.”

“In a letter to senators, the NEA wrote that it agreed with the intent of the amendment, in that states should be required to specifically factor subgroup performance into their system of school identification. But that overall system, the letter stated, should be decided by the states, not the federal government.”

The Democratic Senators apparently don’t know that state takeovers mean privatization (a la ALEC), that charters do not get better academic results than public schools, and that the root cause of low scores is inequity, not “bad” schools. State takeovers have not protected the civil rights of under served children. Privatization has created profits for the charter industry.

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