For those keeping score, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was slated for reauthorization in early 2007. These acts are supposed to be reupped every five years. And like clockwork, we tend to forget about the clock and leave existing laws in place long after their expiration date.
The vision of American education that President Obama and I share starts in the classroom – with fully engaged students, creative and inspiring teachers, and the support and resources needed to get every child prepared for college and career. Students in our poorest communities should enjoy learning opportunities like those in our wealthiest communities. Zip code, race, disability and family income should not limit students’ opportunities or reduce expectations for them The progress of U.S. students should remain transparent.Washington’s role is to protect children at risk and promote opportunity for all. The federal government is not, and will never be, in the business of telling states or schools what or how to teach. But it cannot shirk its role of ensuring that schools and students meet the high bar that prepares them for the real world. History shows that, without some kind of accountability, states and districts do not always need the needs of the most vulnerable students.
In the months ahead, I will ask Congress to listen to those doing the real work of education change. Principals, teachers, governors, state education chiefs, superintendents, parents and students themselves know what is and isn’t working. They can guide us to a better law.Lawmakers in both chambers and parties should agree on a bill that raises the bar, protects children, supports and improves effective teaching and school leadership, and provides flexibility and supports good work at the state and local level. We should give them the resources and the flexibility and make sure we all are accountable for the job we are doing on behalf of our children.We are fighting not just for a strong education system but also for our country. A good law is part of that fight.