On April 11th, 2015, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) into law by then-President and former school teacher Lyndon Johnson, LDF urges Congress to pass an ESEA reauthorization bill that honors the federal role in holding states accountable for ensuring equal access to quality educational opportunities. We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history—we have the opportunity to put children first and ensure that our nation’s public schools fulfill the promise of Brown v. Board of Education to educate all students equitably, regardless of race, ethnicity, or zip code.
Next week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will begin its consideration of the Every Child Achieves Act, the result of bipartisan negotiations between Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray. LDF urges the Chairman, Ranking Member, and members of the Committee to put children first, preserve the Secretary’s authority to hold states accountable for providing quality educational opportunities, and maintain funding intended to support districts serving high proportions of low-income students. Unless we mitigate the effects of concentrated poverty and ensure federal protections for all students, we threaten to compromise educational and life outcomes for many this nation’s public school students. That is contrary to the purpose of ESEA and the moral imperative to educate our nation’s children equitably. “The reauthorization of ESEA presents the opportunity to do the right thing for our nation’s children. The fiftieth anniversary of ESEA reminds us of our obligation to fulfill the intent of the law and to provide supports, not sanctions, to help states improve student outcomes,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.