LDF joined more than eighty civil rights, disability, parent, student, grassroots and education organizations from across the country to urge Congress not to turn back the clock on teacher quality gains for poor and minority students, English Learners, and students with disabilities as it considers reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB).
In a letter to Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Michael Enzi (R-WY), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions and co-sponsors of a bill to reauthorize the ESEA, the coalition urged that the revised ESEA require teachers to complete a minimum level of training and demonstrate competence to teach effectively before they enter the classroom. While the groups applauded the Senators for introducing a bipartisan bill and attempting to fix some of the many flaws in NCLB, they expressed their serious concern that their reauthorization proposal would undermine the critical goal of providing all children with equal access to high-quality teachers. Specifically, the bill would severely weaken NCLB’s “highly qualified teacher” standard, permit the inequitable distribution of quality teachers, and eliminate requirements for the public disclosure of data on teacher quality and equity. The groups offered several recommendations to address these problems and ensure that the neediest students get full and equal access to these well-qualified teachers they deserve.