Education Coalition Backs ESEA Changes

Earlier this week, Senator Tom Harkin released his proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, writes Jennifer Cohen at Ed Money Watch.

Cohen wrote in the summer that Congress was gearing up to negotiate funding formulas to distribute money among states and school districts that aims to provide support for the education of disadvantaged students, as part of ESEA reauthorization.

"Much has already been said about the various changes proposed in the bill, including a move to college and career ready standards, changes to accountability provisions, and changes to school improvement interventions."

In the draft of the bill there are significant changes that would give states flexibility to meet high standards, while taking into account local need and directing more resources to rural communities, says a press release by Save the Children.

Since 2003, Save the Children has fought to modernize education policy to include best practices, and advocated for rural communities to get their fair share of education funding. The bill sets to include both and is being positively received.

"This legislation represents a truly meaningful down payment for kids in rural America who have too often been cut out of our national investment in education," said Mark Shriver, Save the Children Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs.

"As we face historic childhood poverty rates in rural America, education is the best path to breaking this crisis that has gripped parts of our nation for generations."

This comes as the America Forward Education Coalition submits a letter of support to Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Enzi for their bipartisan leadership on reauthorizing ESEA.

The Coalition, made up of 25 major nonprofit organizations representing the nation's leading innovators in the education sector, includes Teach for America, City Year, Citizen Schools and Save the Children,

A press release states:

"[They] were thrilled to see provisions that incentive partnerships with effective nonprofit organizations, and the inclusion of competitive funding streams, two major principles they have been advocating for in the process for reauthorization."

The text of the letter appears in full below.

Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Enzi,

We applaud your efforts to reform our nation's education system. Your joint leadership is a hallmark of success-demonstrating what is possible when we put politics aside and focus on the urgent needs of our country. Introduction of this bill is a major accomplishment particularly at a moment in time when bipartisanship is needed most.

The America Forward Education Coalition, made up of 25 major nonprofit organizations, represents the nation's leading innovators in the education sector. We are in thousands of schools across the country and serve large numbers of low-income students. Our coalition members are united in an effort to elevate the role of high-quality nonprofit providers with demonstrated results in education. Our coalition is in strong support of your comprehensive, reform minded approach to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Real reform can only happen through the legislative process. We know that such an approach is not immediate, and are committed to long term, systemic reform.

We have advocated for the principles outlined in our policy platform, "America Forward on ESEA: Competition, Flexibility, and Data-Driven Results" to be included in the reauthorization since the inception of our coalition. Our member organizations have been fighting for these principles for many years and we are very pleased to see them reflected in this reauthorization proposal. It ensures all students have effective teachers and leaders, expands the number of high quality public charter schools and it increases local flexibility to allow for locally determined solutions. This law, if enacted, will spur entrepreneurship and reward success by making catalytic investments in innovations that work for the academic achievement of all children. The policies included in your bill will ensure that successes experienced by nonprofit organizations on the ground will be supported, incentivized, and encouraged. We are pleased to see disaggregated data and transparency as principles in the bill, but we hope that you will work to ensure that states have a comprehensive accountability system that is designed to close achievement gaps and move all students toward college readiness as part of the reauthorization of ESEA.

We know that this is just the beginning of a long process to bring the principles of this legislation to fruition. We stand ready to work with you, support the bill, and commit to bringing our combined voices to the table as you work with the House of Representatives and the Administration to enact a bill as soon as possible.

Thank you for your commitment to pushing for reauthorization of ESEA at a moment in time when it appeared stalled. You have demonstrated critical leadership and bipartisanship and we pledge to work tirelessly together to make this a reality for our students.

The America Forward Education Coalition

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