Last week, National PTA joined with nine other education organizations to urge the U.S. Senate to bring the bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act-No Child Left Behind (ESEA-NCLB) to the floor for debate. “We applaud the Senate HELP Committee for their great bipartisan progress, but Congress must put kids first and finish its work before the August recess by bringing the bill to the Senate floor.” said Frances Frost, president of Montgomery County Council PTA (MD) to members of the press.
Frances represented National PTA at the event with leadership from other national organizations, including the National Education Association (NEA), National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), The School Superintendents Association (AASA), National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Comprehensive reauthorization of ESEA-NCLB is National PTA’s top education priority and National PTA believes that the U.S. Senate should put kids first before Congress takes its summer recess by voting on this important legislation. In response to the press conference, Senate leadership announced that the bill is scheduled to be debated on the Senate floor starting July 7.
National PTA is advocating for the inclusion of stronger family engagement provisions in the Senate bill. In particular, National PTA urges Senators to approve two amendments to the bill that will enhance family engagement in states and local districts. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) will offer an amendment to support state and local capacity building through Statewide Family Engagement Centers. These centers will build local capacity to train, coordinate, and develop family and community relationships to support student achievement and family engagement. Senators Christopher Coons (D-DE) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) have a bipartisan amendment that will increase the investment in family engagement for qualifying local education agencies from 1 to 2 percent.
While National PTA seeks improvements to the bill, National PTA is pleased that no public or private school portability or voucher provisions were included. We are also pleased that bill requires states to establish challenging academic standards for all students and create statewide accountability systems to ensure all students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. Additionally, the bill allows for multiple measures of student achievement in state determined accountability systems.
We will need PTA advocates to prepare to encourage their Senators to strengthen family engagement provisions and ensure that every child receives the high-quality education he/she deserves. Stay tuned for more updates on the reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB through the One Voice blog and by following @NationalPTA on Twitter.
Lindsay Kubatzky is the government affairs coordinator at National PTA.