Over the weekend, President Obama gave his weekly address, this time discussing the current reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known by its more recent name, No Child Left Behind. In his address, he highlighted the important progress being made in our schools, the need for annual testing (but not overtesting), and more resources for teachers, principals, and schools, and more.
This year, I want to work with both parties in Congress to replace No Child Left Behind with a smarter law that addresses the overuse of standardized tests, makes a real investment in preschool, and gives every kid a fair shot in the new economy.
Now, it’s pretty commonsense that an education bill should actually improve education. But as we speak, there’s a Republican bill in Congress that would frankly do the opposite.
At a time when we should invest more in our kids, their plan would lock in cuts to schools for the rest of this decade. We’d end up actually invest less in our kids in 2021 than we did in 2012.
At a time when we should give our teachers all the resources they need, their plan could let states and cities shuffle education dollars into things like sports stadiums or tax cuts for the wealthy.
At a time when we have to give every child, everywhere, a fair shot—this Congress would actually allow states to make even deeper cuts into school districts that need the most support, send even more money to some of the wealthiest school districts in America, and turn back the clock to a time when too many students were left behind in failing schools.
The President also spoke frankly about the role that education plays in the lives—and futures—of students at different income levels.
Denying a quality education to the children of working families is as wrong as denying health care or child care to working families. We are better than this.
I have a different vision for the middle class.
In today’s world, we have to equip all our kids with an education that prepares them for success, regardless of what they look like, or how much their parents make, or the zip code they live in.
And that means trying new things, investing in what’s working, and fixing what’s not.
That means cutting testing down to the bare minimum required to make sure parents and teachers know how our kids and schools are doing from year to year, and relative to schools statewide.
That means giving the teachers and principals who do the hard work every day the resources they need to spend less time teaching to a test, and more time teaching our kids the skills they need.
The President’s remarks speak to the need to invest resources in our schools and in particular in our educators, something that is missing from the Republican House of Representative’s current bill to rewrite No Child Left Behind.
A report from the President’s office points out that the Republican bill denies students and teachers the resources they need by:
- Cementing recent education cuts, reducing federal education funding to a level lower in 2021 than it was in 2012. In Title I alone, the bill will provide over $7 billion less to schools than the President’s budget over six years.
- Allowing states and localities to reduce the overall amount they spend on education and the funding they direct to classrooms and teachers without losing a dime of federal resources.
- Permitting states to cut federal resources for schools that need them the most – in fact, some especially high-poverty school districts would see cuts as large as 74 percent.