At this point in time, only the truly cockeyed optimist believes that ESEA reauthorization will be moving any time soon. After missed deadlines, political roadblocks, budget showdowns, and the enacting of executive authority, it seems a safe bet that honest to goodness, comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act won’t be a reality until 2013.
But that doesn’t mean we cannot focus on some of the key issues embodied in the reauthorization fight. Chairman John Kline (MN) and the House Education and the Workforce Committee are trying to pick off specific policy topics, one by one, with the most recent action coming on charter schools
In Getting it Right, Ed Trust reiterates the need for true accountability in K-12 education, whether such efforts are established through congressional reauthorization, administration waivers, telethon or local bake sales. In refocusing our attentions on accountability at a time when so many states are struggling with meeting AYP, Ed Trust reminds us that good intentions are not enough in public education. We need to get it right, close the gaps, and do what it takes to have every child succeed (or get out of the way).
Among the reccs coming from Ed Trust:
* Fix what the current law got wrong, including a better balance of federal, state, and local responsibilities.
* Preserve what current law got right, especially its laser-like focus on raising student achievement and closing gaps.
* Build on the real-world lessons of high-improving schools to establish challenging, yet realistic, goals for states.
In her letter releasing Getting it Right, Ed Trust President Kati Haycock noted:
In preparing for our second reauthorization in 2001, Ed
Trust looked hard at lessons learned from leading states and our work in
schools and districts. We also probed the limited data on student achievement
patterns that were available at that time. This research and preparation
suggested that the law’s provisions in two particular areas needed improvement:
accountability, on the one hand, and teacher quality and assignment patterns,
on the other. In the former category, which is the subject of this paper, we
sought to end the widespread practice of sweeping the underperformance of
certain groups of children under the rug of school-wide averages, ensuring to
the extent possible that the law held schools accountable for improving the
performance of all their students.
These are important words from an organization, and an executive, that were instrumental in moving the current ESEA into practice, particularly in historically disadvantaged communities that ESEA had long ignored. Despite all of the chatter in recent years on the problems with accountability, the call to roll back current accountability provisions and the like, Ed Trust is clear that the debate is not more or less accountability. The real issue, if we are concerned with our kids and the achievement gaps that separate them, is the quality of our accountability.
Whether the future of ESEA is one governed by congressional reauth or executive edict, accountability must remain front and center. Federal and state, local and school, classroom and parent, all must be held accountable for the quality and outcomes of our public education system.