Statement by Dan Domenech on the Blueprint for a New Federal Education Law

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aasa_imageDan Domenech, AASA executive director, today issued the following press statement on A Blueprint for Reform, the administration's proposal for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Read the Blueprint and share your comments with AASA on this blog!:

“We are pleased that the Obama Administration has released a blueprint for a new ESEA that is a significant improvement on No Child Left Behind. We applaud President Obama for setting a clear and obtainable goal that the United States will lead the world in college completion by 2020.

“We also applaud the administration for recognizing the need to improve current accountability systems and give districts a transition period to develop better assessments. However, schools in the interim should not be required to use assessments that have already been labeled by the administration as faulty. States and districts should be allowed to use their own benchmarking assessments until new systems are in place, including tests that measure growth and progress over time.

“Rewarding schools that achieve the goals set forth in the plan is a step in the right direction, as is moving away from the punitive, all-or-nothing accountability of No Child Left Behind.

"Education is a civil right, as Secretary Duncan has stated. However, a child’s civil rights are not subject to competition. We object to the decision to shift a significantly larger proportion of dollars into competitive grant programs. Rather than maintaining or cutting formula funding under ESEA, we urge the administration and Congress to grow formula grants to provide a more reliable stream of funding to local school districts.

“The blueprint would require schools to collect, interpret and use a tremendous amount of data. Additional funding must be provided to schools for this activity, or the data collection amounts to an unfunded mandate for school districts.

“We also recommend that the fifth turnaround option, to implement a research based intervention model, reserved in the blueprint for Reward districts, be made available to the lowest-performing districts as well.

“The blueprint proposes the option of removing the superintendent from Challenge districts. In fact, this is not needed as superintendents are already held accountable by and can be removed by their boards.

“The administration’s proposal is headed in a good direction, but specifics and clarification are needed on a number of issues. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration and Congress to iron out the details and to reauthorize ESEA this year.”

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