U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez joined NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer for a conference call on the eve of a vote that, if passed, will reform education in the United States. On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on a reconciled version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESS) which will most likely pass due to bipartisan support for the measures.
The new act would reduce the stakes of standardized tests that are given by allowing states to choose how scores will be used, improve work environments for teachers, provide additional resources for special needs students and include new grant programs aimed at student health, among other changes. The push for reform comes in response to the often-criticized No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 which critics say is too ‘one-size-fits-all’ and relied too heavily on test scores to measure how schools were performing
According to Booker, the reformed act came as a bipartisan compromise.
“This turns the page on the overly prescriptive No Child Left Behind era,” Bookers said. He also mentioned that he is most proud of amendments that support homeless and foster youth.
Senator Menendez said he was also planning on voting yes to the legislation.
“I know firsthand how teachers make a difference,” said Menendez as he recalled a teacher who he said changed the trajectory of his life. “We want that to be a reality for every student no matter where they were born. No child left behind was in dire need of reform,” Menendez said. “The ESS act develops important changes… It allows for more specialized and targeted remedies for students in schools that are underperforming.”
According to Steinhauer, the Act will have a positive impact on NJ families.
“For the last 14 years we have witnessed what happens when standardized testing grows out of control,” he said. Steinhauer also said that the reforms would help New Jersey end both the “achievement and opportunity gaps.”
Last week, the U.S. House passed the measure to revise and replace No Child Left Behind by a large margin.