Legislative Agenda for 111th Congress- Session 2
We argue that public schools and public education historically have been the bedrock of our country's robust democratic institutions. We therefore believe that among the federal roles, the ideal of equity must remain. Excellence is undermined if equity is ignored.
The Congressional Budget Office ( a non-partisan governmental agency) released a report in June which "examines the pressures on the federal budget by presenting the agency's projections of federal spending and revenues over the coming decades." The report The Long-Term Budget Outlook can be accessed at http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=11579 (posted 7/1/10)
The Reauthorization Agenda of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965
- We support full funding of Title I through a fair and equitable formula based funding stream. The current appropriation provided a one-time stimulus infusion into the Title I funding formula. It still left a significant number of districts not funded at a level commensurate with the needs of their populations. We expect that Congress will continue to include in the reauthorization the statue requirement directly states to use Title I funds to supplant not supplement state and local district funding.
- We support accountability. In fact we believe that schooling for all students should be geared toward high and rigorous standards. However, we observe that standards and accountability have become equated with measures and initiatives that impose a retributive penalty framework rather than a supportive framework. As such, we have signed on to the joint organizational statement on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) submitted to Congress and updated on April 13, 2010. We strongly recommend that states be able to develop multiple measures of accountability. We expect that no high-stakes construct will be put in place until there are more advances in robust resources that provide equitable and educationally-relevant resources for all needy districts and schools.
- We support the administration's College and Career Readiness goal. Additionally, we support flexible alternative high school programs serving drop outs or over-aged/ under credited students that provide appropriate accountability where students are not penalized for failing to meet the same high graduation targets and growth goals of regular high schools. We recommend that the provisions of HR4181/S1698 (Graduation Promise Act) be incorporated into language for judging success for high school and graduation rates. Rather than prescribing federal reform models, ESEA reauthorization should emphasize-as GPA does-the use of local performance and school review data in driving decision-making about appropriate interventions. Further, the reauthorization should offer a range of reform options and allow local flexibility in determining the most effective research-based interventions to meet locally determined needs of districts, schools, and students.
- We support language that discusses school improvement, provides sufficient time for plans to take hold before applying any form of sanction. Moreover, the sufficient time required in this statute should be based on rigorous research. In addressing school improvement, states and districts must be supported in developing and implementing richer and deeper pools of data focusing not only on test scores, but other measures that contribute to the academic success of students. Additionally states and districts must be more effective in their use of data.
- We support federal legislative language that maintains state's "statutory and constitutional" role of responsibility for its citizens' education at the local level. However, we advocate that states and local institutions be held accountable for all our citizens' civil rights. We therefore urge Congress to structure statutory language that assures the opportunity to learn. We agree with the Schott Foundation's recommendations.
"Each state shall develop strategies for providing resources to overcome inequities and inadequacies identified by the indicators and provide resources sufficient to ensure every child can participate in high quality learning experiences. Each state should report biannually on the indicators, strategies, and progress to the public. The federal government should provide a biannual report to the public as to status and progress on these indicators across the states."
- We support choice for parents within the public sector including public charter and magnet schooling. However, we are concerned that each state recognize and consider the extent to which their state's policies of charter schools are in fact parallel with non-charter public schools.
- We support Targeted and Sustained investment, at the federal level for financial equity and human capital for every student. We will support Congresspersons (and work cogently and effectively with them) who will assure that Congress provide substantive funding to prevent further educational crises for students of African descent.
- We support the continuation and expansion of the E-Rate program which makes advanced telecommunications services affordable to our nation's schools and libraries.
- We support Programs of Professional Development for Educational Leaders.
- We support research as a lever for informing and influencing policy and legislation. But we would request that Congress review all research from diverse perspectives in a bipartisan way, not just research that supports a particular perspective.
- We support the strengthening of Higher Education. This entails strengthening teacher preparation programs through support for quality interventions including distance learning and through strengthening student grants for teachers of high caliber to work in poor communities.
- We support new legislation within the reauthorization of ESEA that would renew the teacher corps program. Included in its purpose, but not limited to, is a renewal and commitment to recruiting and finding teachers who are among the best, the brightest, and the most nurturing.
- We support programs and appropriate measures of school-to-work transition especially for targeted groups.
We are seeking support from Congress to invest in a pilot world language enrichment program (different from the mono-language programs) for elementary school students, and moreover, that such pilot programs specifically be authorized and appropriated in the reauthorization of ESEA, within the Title I construct. We further recommend, that in the interest of equity, such programs be authorized for schools with targeted Title I funds. We are joined in this initiative with the American Association of School Administrators (See Best for Our Children).
We oppose any choice or voucher programs that use public taxpayers' dollars for private, faith-based and parochial school education, even when the dollars are targeted to a select number of poor children and particularly children of color.
General Language Provision
We urge Congress to avoid language in its statues that is problematic (e.g. subgroup when referring to disaggregated data; no group of humans should be called subgroup).
It is interesting to note that according to Peter C. Groff, a Democratic President of the Colorado Senate, a new cadre of African American politicians under the age of 50 is challenging the Democratic Party to do more to offer greater choice of options among public schools. [Read More]