The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is upping the pressure on Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA): the group is organizing a national call-in day on May 9 for school board members, teachers and other local officials to contact their Congressional representatives and urge them to take action.
“Nobody believes that the No Child Left Behind law is working the way it was intended, and Congress needs to complete its work and relieve all schools from its flawed accountability measures,” said the organization's president, C. Ed Massey, in a statement.
NSBA gave tacit support to the reauthorization bills that have passed out of committee in the House and the Senate, noting that "while not perfect," they "would be a large improvement over the existing law." The group is asking the chambers to "quickly reconcile their differences" and pass the legislation.
Some compromise would be needed to combine the competing bills, but they share many similarities in their broader scope: both would discard the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) system and transition most school oversight back to states and school districts.
In its release, NSBA noted that the ESEA (the most recent incarnation of which was No Child Left Behind, passed in 2002) has been overdue for reauthorization for five years. The association was one of 10 local government and education groups to send a letter to Congress last week pushing for new legislation.
While some credit No Child Left Behind for bringing more attention to achievement gaps between different student groups by requiring more reporting of data, most agree that its more rigorous standards (specifically, that 100 percent of students be proficient in math and reading by 2014) are untenable.
Until Congress passes a bill, the Obama administration has established a waiver program from those requirements. States must commit to reforms dictated by the White House to receive a waiver; 37 states have elected to apply for one.