In a letter to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Kim Anderson and Mary Kusler of the National Education Association have expressed mostly support for the Senator's proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The proposal would eliminate the No Child Left Behind era's system of adequate yearly progress, maintain some testing and ease restrictions on NCLB's âhighly qualified teachers' provisions.
First, the NEA applauds an admission that NCLB-era policies need to be changed:
We are pleased that your ESEA package addresses the current unworkable accountability system and proposes a number of changes designed to ensure more meaningful accountability.
The NEA goes on to praise the plan's commitment to âdisaggregation of data to monitor achievement gaps', multiple measures of student achievement, and flexibility for students with special needs. In addition, they're happy with the focus on teacher quality:
Finally, we support your proposals regarding teacher quality that would modify the punitive and rather arbitrary nature of the "highly qualified teacher" sanctions, emphasize involvement of educators in needs assessment and compensation-related decisions, foster multiple careers and pathways for teachers, and advance family-community-school partnerships.
The plan, according to the NEA, isn't perfect — the union has some qualms about:
Elimination of the "savings clause," which protects educators' rights to have a voice in their workplace through collective bargaining and other agreements;
Lack of accountability and transparency for charter schools;
Failure to address adequately core teacher pipeline issues;
Proposals to block grant and freeze core education funding.
The NEA has pledged to work with Alexander and his colleagues to work out the details and tweak the proposal in coming months.
The entire letter [PDF, 2 pages] can be viewed here.