President Obama marks start of new era in public education with ESSA signing
WASHINGTON—At a White House ceremony President Barack Obama today signed into law S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan and bicameral bill to reauthorize the federal education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García joined the president. Mary Jo Bremner, a teacher at Browning High School on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana, and Sabrina Peacock, a third grade math teacher in Guilford County, North Carolina, also joined President Obama and President Eskelsen García at the White House signing ceremony.
“This new law is a well-deserved victory for our nation because the Every Student Succeeds Act will create greater opportunity for every student regardless of ZIP Code,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Educators welcomed the end of No Child Left Behind and the beginning of a new era in public education in schools.”
“After 15 years of not having a say in public education, I feel very humbled and privileged to witness the signing of this new education law,” said Mary Jo Bremner, a teacher at Browning High School on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. “In my mind, other people get to see things like this, not me. But this is awesome. My hope is we’ll now get back to where teachers can actually teach and all students can receive the type of education that ignites their curiosity and desire to learn.”
Throughout the reauthorization process, NEA’s focus has been threefold: elevate the voices of educators in the policymaking process, decouple standardized testing from high stake decisions, and create an “opportunity dashboard” to help close opportunity gaps in needy schools. Based on these measures, ESSA has the potential to be a game-changer.
“I am so excited to have been in the room to witness this signing ceremony,” said the North Carolina third grade teacher, Sabrina Peacock. “Now my children will be able to say to their grandchildren that their grandmother was there when this historic legislation was signed into law. This was a collective effort involving educators, parents and entire communities—all coming together for our kids. With this legislation, what we are doing for one we are doing for all students. It’s great to see that our voice does make a difference,” concluded Peacock.
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the bill last week, and the Senate followed suit on Wednesday.
“We commend Congress for the bipartisan cooperation, leadership and hard work to get the job done for students and educators,” said Eskelsen García. “We thank President Obama for signing this important bill into law. Now our work begins in earnest as we shift our attention toward implementation. We look forward to working closely with state and local policymakers, as well as other key stakeholders, to raise our voice to deliver on the promise of ESSA and to provide opportunity for all students.”