U.S. Senate ushers in new era in public education with historic vote
NEA-New Hampshire welcomes bill to create greater opportunity for every student to succeed
CONCORD, NH —The U.S. Senate today approved S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan and bicameral bill to reauthorize the federal education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on an 85-12 vote. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law as soon as this week.
“This new law recognizes that the one-size-fits-all approach to education, learning and testing does not work, said Scott McGilvray, NEA-New Hampshire President. “It validates New Hampshire’s long-standing tradition of local control; where parents, elected officials and educators work together to unlock each student’s potential.”
Students and educators have lived with the unintended consequences of the failed “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) for more than 14 years. NEA-NH members have waged an unprecedented mobilization and advocacy campaign on behalf of the New Hampshire’s students in an effort to turn the page on the failed NCLB law and to bring in a new federal education law that provides more opportunity for all students.
“ESSA empowers educators as trusted professionals to make school and classroom decisions, while keeping the focus on students most in need,” said McGilvray. “This legislation begins to close the opportunity gaps for students by providing a new system that includes an ‘opportunity dashboard’ with indicators of school success and student support. Not only does it reduce the amount of standardized testing in schools, but it decouples high-stakes decisions and statewide testing so students have more time to develop critical thinking while educators do what they love — inspire a lifelong love of learning.”
ESSA requires state-designed accountability systems to include at least one indicator of school success or student support—such as access to advanced coursework, school climate and safety free from bullying, fine arts, regular physical education, and counselors or nurses—to ensure that states report on opportunity gaps and take action to close them. It also requires the use of multiple measures of student success in elementary, middle, and high school.
“Today, the U.S. Senate took a bold and historic step to usher in a new era in public education,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “This is a deserved victory for public education because the Every Student Succeeds Act will ensure all students have equal opportunity to a high-quality public education regardless of ZIP Code.”