5 Reasons Why Senator Alexander’s Education Bill [and What Is Today] Fails Communities of Color

5 Reasons Why Senator Alexander’s Education Bill [and What Is Today] Fails Communities of Color2016-11-29T17:39:17-05:00

Project Description

As you peruse what was the beginning of Congressional negotiations please consider how much or how little has changed. Please review the current state of the Every Child Achieves Act 2015. To better understand what is now and how the compromise legislation affects our children of color, please ponder the Letter sent on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, (LDF), the civil rights law firm founded by Thurgood Marshall. Then, ask yourself how much of what was Senator Lamar Alexander's Bill remains and will we decide to continue to fail our Communities of Color?

Agree or disagree with the views stated in this report, it seems clear that we have failed communities of color...and the poor. Worse yet, we barely discuss this. As a nation, we abandoned the original intent of the Elementary and Secondary Act. Remember…
“In recognition of the special educational needs of low-income families and the impact that concentrations of low-income families have on the ability of local educational agencies to support adequate educational programs, the Congress hereby declares it to be the policy of the United States to provide financial assistance… to local educational agencies serving areas with concentrations of children from low-income families to expand and improve their educational programs by various means (including preschool programs) which contribute to meeting the special educational needs of educationally deprived children”
(Section 201, Elementary and Secondary School Act, 1965).

By Center For American Progress | Originally Published at The Center For American Progress. February 2, 2015 | Photographic Credit; Students at Robert Goddard French Immersion School in Prince George’s County. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Earlier this month, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) proposed a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. The ESEA is seven years overdue for a reauthorization. The process presents an opportunity to improve U.S. school systems for communities of color. Unfortunately, Sen. Alexander’s proposal fails to seize this opportunity. Instead, it proposes to reduce parent access to reliable and valid information and devolves most decisions about school quality to states, which historically have not taken action to address deficiencies in school systems. Here are five reasons why Sen. Alexander’s bill harms communities of color:

Allows low-performing schools to languish:

Sen. Alexander’s bill essentially eliminates accountability for low-performing schools. In place of the rigorous system currently in operation, states could design and implement almost any system they want with no federal checks or guardrails. As a result, many students of color would be forced to attend low-performing public schools without other viable school options.

Lowers academic standards:

Sen. Alexander’s bill fails to require that states implement internationally benchmarked, college- and career-ready standards. Instead, states may adopt standards that do not establish a meaningful, high bar for the information students need to succeed after graduation. These lower standards would undoubtedly leave many more students of color unprepared to successfully compete in a global economy after high school graduation.

Opens the door to significant budget cuts:

Sen. Alexander’s bill eliminates the ESEA’s “maintenance of effort,” or MOE, provision, which requires states to maintain approximately the same spending levels from year to year. Without the MOE provision, states would have free rein to underinvest in schools. As a result, many more students of color would be likely to attend schools with inadequate resources, ineffective teachers, and larger class sizes in the early grades.

Prevents parents from making informed decisions about where to send their child to school:

In order for parents to know whether their children are on track to graduate from high school ready for college or career, they need access to objective annual information about how they are progressing. Sen. Alexander’s bill offers an option whereby states would have complete flexibility when it comes to deciding when and how to measure student progress. His bill also eliminates the requirement that states use the same assessments for all students. Without equivalent data across school districts, parents would be unable to compare school performance and make informed choices about where to send their children.

Eliminates focus on that state’s students of color:

Sen. Alexander’s bill removes the requirement that states improve their graduation rates for students of color. Establishing these specific graduation targets is clearly an effective measure given that young Hispanic students are now half as likely to drop out of high school as they were 15 years ago. Unfortunately graduation rates for students of color could decline significantly in the coming years because Sen. Alexander neglected to require specific targets for states.

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This piece was reprinted by EmpathyEducates with permission or license. We thank The Center For American Progress for the kindness and research. We are grateful for a dedication to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, and action.