Originally enacted in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Elementary and Second Education Act (ESEA) emphasizes equal access to education for all students and is the most expansive federal education legislation in history. The ESEA has been reauthorized numerous times, most recently in 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act. In 2010, President Obama proposed a blueprint for reforming the ESEA, which promotes the goal of preparing all students to be successful both in college and in the workplace, particularly focusing on our nation’s lowest performing schools.
On Feb 10, 2015, LDF announced its opposition to the bill by introduced by Chairman John Kline of the House of Representatives’ Education and the Workforce Committee to reauthorize the ESEA. The bill, the Student Success Act, H.R. 5, is being voted on by the Committee. LDF opposes the bill because it would cut back the federal government’s critical oversight role, eliminate state accountability for student achievement, and dilute federal funds intended to support low-income school districts. The bill would undermine the very spirit of the original ESEA of 1965, to close achievement gaps and create a level playing field for all students to access quality educational opportunities and succeed.
In its letter of opposition to H.R. 5, LDF outlined its concerns, noting that the bill would turn its back on the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which was premised upon the importance of the federal role in holding states accountable for non-discrimination in education.
Key among LDF’s concerns are the bill’s “portability” provisions, which would change current formulas for Title I funding that would take the funding out of low-income school districts, effectively diluting the funding and making it harder for low-income school districts to access needed resources.
LDF also highlights its concern that H.R. 5 does not ensure the equitable distribution of school resources, like access to credentialed teachers or college-and-career ready courses. The bill also does little to encourage schools to address disparities in school discipline, which negatively impact students of color, pushing them out of school and contributing to the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
LDF calls upon Congress to engage in a thoughtful and inclusive bipartisan process to reauthorize the ESEA and draft a bill that fulfills the promise of Brown to provide all students with quality educational opportunities.
Download this flyer for key recommendations regarding ESEA and African American Girls.
LDF has also commented on the U.S. Senate’s efforts to reauthorize the ESEA in a letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.