Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act on U.S. Chamber and White House agendas

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – commonly known as No Child Left Behind – is the federal law that authorizes federally funded education programs that are administered by the states. During his weekly address, President Obama spoke of the need to reform ESEA this year. “We need to promote reform that gets results while encouraging communities to figure out what’s best for their kids. That why it’s so important that Congress replace No Child Left Behind this year – so schools have that flexibility.”

The White House plan to fix ESEA includes, among other items, incentive and merit pay for teachers, competitive grant programs (like Race to the Top) to reward innovation and increased local control.

Also sharing a plan to fix ESEA is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During a news conference in Washington D.C., Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson stood alongside U.S. Chamber President Tom Donahue and former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings urging Congress to strengthen and update ESEA.  Adkisson, Donahue and Spellings  shared a list of guiding principles for Congress which included clear and rigorous accountability standards for schools, performance pay for teachers and high academic standards a assessments for students.

Adkisson, who chairs the U.S. Chamber’s education committee, pointed out that Kentucky’s education system has made great strides in the past several years – including the adoption of solid academic standards in math and reading and the strengthening of data used to inform teaching and learning.

“But we clearly have more work to do,” said Adkisson in an op-ed supporting the ESEA principles. Kentucky needs to improve its teacher compensation and evaluation systems, close the achievement gap between students from different backgrounds and, through the right kind of charter school legislation, make other opportunities for educational excellence available for students and their families.” A stronger ESEA law would encourage Kentucky to move forward on these policies.

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