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House Ed Comm 3-26-10 Esea Reauth Comments Elc Pa Cfe Cfj Fina_1

House Ed Comm 3-26-10 Esea Reauth Comments Elc Pa Cfe Cfj Fina_1

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Published by: Education Justice on Jul 23, 2010
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10/25/2012

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March26, 2010U.S.Houseof Representatives, Committee onEducation&Labor
Re: Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
Dear Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Kline, and Members of theCommittee onEducation&Labor:The undersigned organizations appreciate the opportunity to respond to the Committee’srequest for comments onreauthorization of theElementary and Secondary Education Act(“ESEA”) by March 26, 2010.SummaryOur comments emphasize theurgentneed toensure that states provide districts andschools,especially those servingconcentrations of low-income or“at-risk” studentsand students ofcolor,with theresourcesnecessaryto offer allstudentsagenuine"Opportunity To Learn" andachieve rigorous academic standards.Opportunity To Learn (OTL)meanschildrenhaveaccessat leastto high-quality preschool, quality teachingin pre-K-12,acollege preparatorycurriculum, decent facilities, andequitableinstructional resources.Only by ensuring thefairandequitable provision ofessentialeducational resources, including teaching quality,
across our50 statepublic school systems 
willthe U.S. have any hope of closing the achievement gapand returning oureducational systemto international prominence.To further this overarching objective, ourprimaryrecommendations for reauthorization ofESEA areto ensurethat:(1)
Allstatesdistributean adequate level ofstate and localfundingrelative to student need, andallstatesareheld accountable for ensuring districtsand 
 
2
schoolshave theeducational resources necessary toprovide equal opportunity to learnand achieve academic standards.
(2)
All students arrive at kindergarten prepared to learn,byencouragingstatesto provideaccess tohigh quality pre-K education.
(3)
All students have access tofullyprepared and effective teachers.
(4)
All parents have meaningful opportunities to engage in their child’seducation.
Organizations Submitting these Comments
Education Law Center
(“ELC”), which includes
Education Justice
,is anon-profit legalservicesand advocacyorganization dedicated to advancingequal educational opportunities forpublic school children across the nation,especiallylow-income students, students of color, andstudents with special needs.
Public Advocates
is a non-profit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges thesystemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices inpublic policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing and transitequity.
Californians for Justice
is a statewide, grassroots organization dedicated to building power incommunities that have been pushed to the margins of the political process.
The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc.
(CFE)isnon-profit organization leadingeffortstoprotect and promote the constitutional right to the opportunity for a sound basic education forall New York public school studentsthrough policy research and development, legislative andpolicy advocacy, and public engagement.Needto Improve ESEA and State Education FundingESEAincludes thepurpose“to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significantopportunity to obtain a high-quality education.” (20 U.S.C. § 6301).Unfortunately,however,millions ofchildrenacrossthe country, particularly low-income and minority children,do not yethave access tothis opportunity because their schoolsand communitiescannot provide theprograms and servicesall childrenneed to achieve.Closing thesehuge opportunity gapsisanessentialpreconditionto closing achievement gapsamong groups of students.Many of the nation’s “lowest-performing” schoolslack the qualified and experienced teachersand other staff that are crucial to educational success. These schoolsarealso oftenhoused inovercrowded andcrumbling buildings that do not have:sufficient light, heat, and airconditioning; working science laboratories and equipment; accessibility for students withlimited mobility; music and art supplies; sufficient books and computers; and other essentials.
 
3
Importantly,children in many of the impacted communities do not have access to a wellplanned, high quality preschool program, linked to the state’s K-12 content and performancestandards, beginning at agethree.An impressivebody of research shows that high qualityearly educationis essential to close early developmentalgaps and prepare children forsuccess in elementary school and beyond.Furthermore, many students attending theseschools move frequently and suffer the other negative effects of poverty, all of which decreaselearning.To close these opportunity gaps,the federal governmentneedsto fully fund Title I and IDEAPartB,andrequireallstatesto assess the resource deficitsamong districts and schools withintheir states. States must alsodevelop and implement plans toendtheseinequitiesandprovide the Opportunity To Learnto all.In short, thisCommittee must advance, through theESEAreauthorization, the overarching objective of assuringthe50 statesprovide theeducational resourcesnecessary for every child, especially those in high-poverty, low-wealthcommunities,tohave access to ahigh quality learning experiencethat will prepare them forcollege or the workforce.RecommendationsWe believe that thereauthorization of ESEA should prioritize the following issues:
(1)EquitableResourcesand Opportunity To Learn
Through“No Child Left Behind,”the federal government has focused on holding schoolsand teachers accountable for ensuring that students reach specifiedtest scores.TheAdministration’s Blueprint for ESEA Reauthorization (“the Blueprint”) improves on NCLB’soverly constricted focus almost exclusively on math and reading test scores toamoremeaningful focus on college and career readinessstandards.While the latter is a welcomeimprovement, neither NCLB nor the Blueprintrequiresstates to align school resources withtheirlearning goals.As a result,most state educationfunding systemsremain disconnected from the needs ofthe state’s students and schools, and particularly shortchange schools in low-wealth andminority communities.Instead of punishingstudents,teachers and schools for failing toreachtest scoregoals that are unrealistic, federaleducation policies should work toensurethat schools have sufficienteducationalresources to provide all students with a genuineopportunity to learn.Therefore, the ESEA reauthorization should
ensure that all schools have adequate resources, that resources are distributed equitably,andthat all schools provide equal Opportunity To Learn 
, by: 
-
Increasing federal funding for education and targeting the additional spending to the schools andstudents that need it the most; 
-
Increasing federal funding for education to fully fund Title I and IDEAPartB; 
-
Making federal Title I and IDEAPartB, funding mandatory instead of discretionary; 

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