Top Civil Rights, Business, Disability and Education Groups Oppose GOP ESEA Draft, Call Proposal 'a Rollback': News of the Day

Jan 25, 2012 Issues: Education, ESEA

Opposition to Committee Republicans’ draft education proposals continues to mount. Nearly 40 organizations – representing a broad cross section of civil rights, disability, business and education organizations – today come out against the draft bills, calling them a “rollback” that “undermines the core American value of equal opportunity of education.

Referring to the set of Republican proposals, the groups write:

… it abandons accountability for the achievement and learning gains of subgroups of disadvantaged students who for generations have been harmed by low academic expectations...As a result, the draft would thrust us back to an earlier time when states could choose to ignore disparities for children of color, low-income students, ELLs, and students with disabilities. The results, for these groups of students and for our nation as a whole, were devastating.

...The students we represent cannot withstand the risk of Congress allowing states to return to old habits – aiming low and abandoning children deemed too difficult or inconsequential to educate. The draft, as written, would invite such a result.

This draft bill also would allow federal dollars to flow but require virtually nothing in return. This is bad for students and bad for taxpayers. Federal funding must be attached to firm, ambitious, and unequivocal demands for higher achievement, improved high school graduation rates, and progress in closing both achievement and opportunity gaps. Any reauthorization of ESEA must, at minimum, require states to set clear goals and provide instructional support so that all students receive an education that prepares them for success in college and careers.

These groups join others who have highlight a number of shortcomings in the majority’s two highly partisan draft pieces of legislation put out by in lieu of a whole-scale rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Voices likes these are crucial in crafting education policy, because they remind us that students need to be first and foremost in any discussion on the federal role in education.  Students and equity are why the federal government got involved in education in the first place and it should continue to guide federal involvement.  This letter is a testament to that mission.  

Read the full letter to Chairman Kline here.

The following is a list of the 38 undersigned groups:

50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now
The Advocacy Institute
American Association of People with Disabilities
The American Association of University Women
American Civil Liberties Union
American Federation of Teachers
The Arc
Autism National Committee
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Business Coalition for Student Achievement
The Center for American Progress Action Fund
The Center for Law and Education
Children’s Defense Fund
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.
Democrats for Education Reform
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
The Education Trust
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
League of United Latin American Citizens
MALDEF (the Mexican American League Defense and Education Fund)
Mental Health America
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Council on Independent Living
National Council of La Raza
National Disability Rights Network
National Down Syndrome Congress
National Down Syndrome Society
National Urban League
National Women’s Law Center
The New Teacher Project
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Public Advocates
Southeast Asia Research Action Center
Stand for Children
U.S. Chamber of Commerce