October 15, 2015

Educators 4 Excellence releases priority recommendations for improving federal education law to close gap between classroom and congress

E4E Members from Across U.S. Will Visit D.C. on Oct. 29 to Share Teachers’ Perspectives on Improving the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in Advance of Conference Bill

October 15, 2015 (New York) - Educators 4 Excellence, a teacher-led organization that seeks to elevate the voices of teachers in policy discussions, today released From the Classroom to Congress: ESEA Policy at Play, a new paper detailing teacher-authored recommendations for the future of ESEA. Revisiting and revising ESEA, which was first established in 1965 under Lyndon B. Johnson, has been delayed since 2007 due to extreme gridlock in the U.S. Congress.

"In its founding, ESEA was a powerful and important action by the federal government to promote greater economic and social opportunity for all Americans through a more equitable education system," said Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Educators 4 Excellence Evan Stone. “Congress must remember ESEA’s origins and focus on providing equity and opportunity to all students as they work to revise the law. No one knows the strengths and weaknesses of federal education law better than classroom teachers. In working with teachers’ perspectives on how NCLB has played out in their schools and profession, legislators will more successfully close the gap between Congress and the classroom.”

The paper, authored by 11 working classroom teachers from five different states, calls on Congress to:

Maintain and Increase Title I dollars for high-poverty schools by-

  • Significantly increasing Title I funding to drive targeted resources to high-poverty populations of students and to deny the portability of Title I funds; and,
  • Keeping the “Maintenance of Effort” (MoE) provision, which requires states and districts that receive Title I funding to maintain approximately the same spending levels on education year to year.

Strengthen school accountability for traditionally underserved students by-

  • Maintaining required annual statewide assessments for all students in grades 3-8 and once in grades 10-12;
  • Continuing to require and support interventions for schools that consistently fail to serve all groups of students (such as low-income students, students with disabilities, African-American, Latino, and English Learners) to ensure they are not allowed to continue failing generations of students; and,
  • Allowing states and local districts to determine the interventions they use, but their success should be tied to the success of all sub-groups of students.

Elevate teaching and promote teacher leadership by-

  • Using Title II funds to support hybrid teaching positions where strong teachers have opportunities to both teach and lead such as facilitating professional development as well as collecting and using teacher feedback to improve evaluations and professional development programs; and,
  • Incentivizing a more equitable distribution of effective teachers by setting aside Title II funds to support districts that want to recruit or reward high-performing teachers to teach in hard-to-staff subjects or schools.

“Congress must act now, to promote educational equity, to support the recruitment and retention of excellent teachers in vital areas, and to keep accountability in order to ensure an excellent education for all students,” said Stephanie Plachy, a member of the action team who teaches Sixth Grade English Language Arts at Evergreen Middle School for Urban Exploration in New York City.

A team of eight active classroom teachers and Educator 4 Excellence members from across the country will travel to Washington, D.C. on Oct. 29 to share with legislators their recommendations for improving ESEA.