Bristol Federation of Teachers

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NCLB Close to Being Fixed! — July 25, 2015

NCLB Close to Being Fixed!

AFT Members,

Thank you for your tireless advocacy over the past several months. As a result, I have exciting news to share.

Last week, the Senate, by an overwhelming bipartisan vote (81-17), passed the Every Child Achieves Act—a bill overhauling No Child Left Behind, as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is currently known. And earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed its version of an ESEA reauthorization bill.

While the House bill has significant problems, the House and Senate will soon meet to bridge their differences and create a single bill to send to the president. This means we are closer to getting a much-needed reset in our federal education policy than we have been in more than 14 years.

Help us by sending a thank-you to the senators who voted for this bill and urging those who voted “no” not to stand in the way of approving the reset we all need.

We couldn’t have gotten this far without your help.

Our members and activists—more than 100,000 people just like you—sent letters, made calls, held meetings with members of Congress, organized lobby days and spoke up on social media. The Every Child Achieves Act is stronger because of it.

The Senate bill protects ESEA’s original intent of providing extra support to the kids who need it most. It stops the federal secretary of education from closing schools or dictating teacher evaluations, and resets accountability by eliminating the test-and-punish policies that have narrowed curriculum but not the achievement gap.

See how your senators voted and send them a message.

Getting this result was not easy. Although the Senate bill has bipartisan support, it was a dogfight every day.

Thanks to your hard work, we were part of the discussions in a real way. Now, as the House and Senate go to conference committee, we will urge conferees to use the Senate bill as the basis of any final agreement.

This framework gives us the best chance to get a final bill for the president’s signature that includes what Americans need and want:

  • No more NCLB, Race to the Top or waivers.
  • No more mandatory teacher evaluation from the federal government.
  • No more federal school closings.
  • No more federal accountability system that applies to the whole country.
  • New authorization for full-service community schools and early childhood programs.
  • Ability for districts to study workplace conditions and supports.
  • And—while the funding levels have not increased—no school districts will lose money.

Our work is not done; we still have to get through conference and get a bill signed into law. But we are off to a great start.

Send the senators who helped make this happen a thank-you note, and remind those who voted NO that they are standing in the way of getting us the much-needed reset we have been working toward for more than a decade.

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President

Tired of NCLB? Urge Congress to Fix It Now — July 9, 2015

Tired of NCLB? Urge Congress to Fix It Now

No Child Left Behind (as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is currently known) is now nearly 14 years old, which means I have watched students enter and exit the K-12 education system under the same failed law. As Congress works to reauthorize ESEA, passed originally in 1965, it is clear we need a reset in federal education policy, one that creates the space and latitude schools need to teach children with a well-rounded curriculum rather than fixate on tests. The bipartisan bill to reauthorize ESEA, the Every Child Achieves Act, is centered on ESEA’s original intent of equity and support for our most vulnerable students and is a good start to that reset.

The Senate has begun debating the Every Child Achieves Act, and we’re hopeful they can agree on a bill that puts kids first. And while we support the bill, several amendments will be voted on in the coming days that could help make the Every Child Achieves Act stronger, getting us back to the original intent of ESEA.

Will you take a minute and urge your senators to support key amendments that would strengthen the Every Child Achieves Act?

Key amendments include:

Community schools: This amendment supports a comprehensive approach to education by addressing academic and nonacademic challenges faced by students. Community schools have been funded federally for a number of years and are critical to supporting coordinated wraparound and academic services.

Resource equity: We support the resource equity amendment to ensure that states measure and implement a plan to address disparities in access to critical educational resources.

Improving teaching and learning conditions: This past spring, the AFT conducted a survey of more 30,000 teachers that uncovered significant stress associated with their working conditions. One recommendation to come out of this survey was that the federal government fund a comprehensive study of workplace stress and working conditions. We fully support an amendment to allow states and districts to use Title II funds to conduct and publicly report on an assessment of educator support and working conditions that would be developed with teachers, leaders, parents, students and the community.

Charter oversight and accountability: This amendment would improve oversight of charter schools, increase transparency, and support parent and community involvement.

Student Non-Discrimination Act: This amendment would establish a federal prohibition on discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity that would provide protections for LGBT students and ensure that all students have access to public education in a safe environment free from discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence.

It’s time for the Senate to pass a bill that maintains the federal commitment to equity by continuing to target federal funds for poor children while putting an end to the test-and-punish model and getting the federal government out of the business of teacher evaluations. The Every Child Achieves Act is a huge step in the right direction. Help me continue to fight to make sure our children are getting highest-quality public education possible.

Write your senators today and urge them to further improve the Every Child Achieves Act by supporting these amendments.

In unity,
Mary Cathryn Ricker
AFT Executive Vice President