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What Public School Parents Want in a New Federal Education Law
A Parents Across America Position Paper on the Reauthorization
of the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
“What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child,
that must the community want for all its children.
Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely;
acted upon, it destroys our democracy.”
-John Dewey, The School and Social Progress
Public school parents are increasingly concerned that the current direction of education reform in this nation is dangerously eroding our children’s opportunity to realize their individual potential and experience an excellent, fulfilling education.
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has dramatically harmed our local schools with its overemphasis on high-stakes testing, narrowing of the curriculum, and punitive unfunded mandates that have been especially harmful to schools with high-needs student populations. What it has not done is improve achievement.
Unfortunately, these same destructive policies, and more, are featured in the Obama administration’s “Blueprint” for reauthorization of this law, despite the fact that they are not based on solid research or supported by most public school parents.
Our top federal officials seem to be too busy listening to venture philanthropists and corporate reformers to hear our concerns. We are offered dubious sales pitches for “merit pay,” more testing, and school privatization instead of thoughtful efforts at consensus-building around what actually works
As our lawmakers consider the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, (ESEA, aka NCLB), it is time they listened to those with the most at stake in education, the parents of the nation’s public school children. We know that some of our schools need help, but we also know
that there are approaches and strategies that are far more successful than those currently being promoted under NCLB and the “Blueprint.” It’s time we stop doing things that don’t work, and start doing more of the things that do work. We demand a responsible education law that will strengthen our nation’s public schools and provide a high-quality education for all of our children.
We look forward to a productive dialogue with Congress and other officials in the upcoming days and weeks regarding Parents Across America’s recommendations for ESEA/NCLB reauthorization.
Parents Across America opposes:
· Policies that use standardized test scores as the most important accountability measure for schools, teachers or students, and/or expand the use of standardized testing in our schools.
· Competition for federal funds; a quality education is not a race but a right.
· “Parent trigger” laws, vouchers, charter takeovers or other forms of school privatization that take resources from the schools attended by most students and put them into private hands, with less oversight.
· Limiting federally-mandated school improvement models to a narrow set of strategies, including charter schools and privatization, which are favored by corporate reformers but which have had little verified success.
A new ESEA/NCLB must include:
· Sufficient and equitable resources in all public schools, so that every child receives a high quality education.
· Improving schools rather than closing them, by means of evidence-based solutions backed by parents and other stakeholders.
· Less standardized testing and more reliable accountability and assessment practices.
· Programs that encourage the retention of professional, experienced teachers.
· A full range of parent involvement opportunities including a stronger parent voice in decision making at the school, district, state, and national levels.
· The right of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests.
Recommendations from Parents Across America for a new ESEA/NCLB
Specifically, we believe that ESEA/NCLB should be revised to include:
ESEA/NCLB should include:
· A full range of parent involvement opportunities including support for site-based school governance with significant parent representation and real, not just advisory, authority.
· The same parent involvement requirements for all schools including charter and any other schools receiving public funds.
· No child may be retained in grade without the parents’ permission.
Parents Across America (PAA) is a grassroots organization that connects parents and activists from across the U.S. to share ideas and work together on improving our nation’s public schools. We advocate for proven, progressive measures such as reducing class size and increasing parent involvement, and oppose high-stakes testing and corporate-style efforts to privatize our schools.
PAA is committed to bringing the voice of public school parents – and common sense – to local, state, and national education debates.
This document was prepared by Parents Across America and posted by:
Dora Taylor, Founding Member
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