Faith Communities Speak to Upcoming Reauthorization of the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act

In March 2010, Congress seriously began considering a new reauthorization of the federal education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  "No Child Left Behind" is the name given to the most recent 2002 reauthorization of this omnibus federal law, first passed in 1965 during the Lyndon Johnson Administration as the cornerstone of the War on Poverty. 

Also in March 2010, the Obama Administration, presented a "Blueprint for Reform of ESEA," a statement of the Administration's principles for the pending reauthorization. 

Comments from the Churches

The 69 member Governing Board of the National Council of Churches on May 18, 2010, unanimously adopted a pastoral letter, "An Alternative Vision for Public Education," that speaks to today’s conversation about public schools, a conversation which has lately veered into attacking public education and scapegoating public school educators.  The statement prayerfully asks Congress to address the substantive matters that need to be overhauled when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is reauthorized.  It explores serious issues in the Race to the Top competition including incentives to charterize and privatize public schools, incentives to tie teacher evaluations to students' test scores, and radical and untested turnaround plans like firing the principal and at least half of the staff or closing the school and moving children elsewhere. 

At the end of March, the U.S. House of Representatives requested that organizations wishing to speak to the reauthorization submit comments.  Later the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee requested comments.  The UCC and NCC both resubmitted to the Senate the earlier comments sent to the House.

Here is the Comment Submitted to the House Education & Labor Committee on the ESEA Reauthorization by the UCC Justice & Witness Ministries on March 24, 2010.

Here is the Comment Submitted to the House Education and Labor Committee by Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon on behalf of the National Council of Churches on March 26, 2010.

Here is a preliminary analysis of the President's "Blueprint for Reform of ESEA" by Jan Resseger at the UCC's Justice & Witness Ministries.

This March, 2010, Witness for Justice column examines school turnaround policies in Race to the Top and proposals for ESEA reauthorization: Research Rejects School Reforms Being Pushed by Obama Administration.