Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction and President of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Tom Luna testified Thursday, February 16 before the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on two bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The House Education and the Workforce Committee is currently considering proposals introduced by committee Chairman John Kline to reauthorize ESEA, The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.
In his testimony, Superintendent Luna explicitly called for immediate ESEA reauthorization, and said that “…for the last 10 years, American schools have lived under a law that is akin to the classic Clint Eastwood movie, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. First the good: No Child Left Behind has placed a spotlight on student achievement in America, especially among disadvantaged students, and it has established grade level proficiency as the target for every child. But while No Child Left Behind has focused America’s schools upon improving learning for every child, it also has many bad parts. Notably, current law doesn’t recognize student growth, so schools have numerous ways to fail but few avenues to demonstrate success. And now the ugly: because the law has not been reauthorized in a timely manner, its rigid accountability system has become a stumbling block to state and local education reforms.”
In the absence of federal action, Luna described what he calls the “renaissance” of education reform that states have led in recent years. “More than 30 states last year passed some form of comprehensive education reform legislation. States across the nation are addressing antiquated labor practices, improving student access to technology, engaging in system redesign, adopting clear and high academic standards, and developing data systems that support targeted student interventions and improved program evaluation.”
Superintendent Luna emphasized the importance of a federal law that promotes state flexibility. “We do not need the federal government to dictate the specific terms of state and local reforms, because we are situated best to develop and implement state, local, and national initiatives that benefit students in our state,” he said, and commended Chairman Kline for offering a bill that “acknowledges and respects that it is state and local leaders who are driving education reform.” He also reiterates CCSSO’s support for added provisions to the bill that will “strengthen the ability of states to deliver on their commitments to stronger accountability systems rooted in the ultimate goal of college and career readiness for all students.”
Please view Superintendent Luna’s prepared remarks, including recommended modifications of the proposals here.