DFER-CO Statement on Today’s U.S. Senate Hearing on Reforming ESEA
January 21, 2015
Democrats for Education Reform Colorado applauds U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg for their leadership in the national effort to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to provide better schools and better outcomes for all students.
In today’s Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing, titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability,” Sen. Bennet spoke on the need to rewrite the law, focusing on the importance of prioritizing kids, changing outcomes, and addressing poverty:
“For the first time in the country’s history, a majority of our public school children are poor enough that they qualify for free and reduced lunch. That is a shameful situation that we find ourselves in. When No Child Left Behind was passed we couldn’t say that. The majority of our children weren’t that poor. They are today.
“In my view that’s why this discussion is so important – because the attempt of No Child Left Behind was to create a system of accountability that disaggregated data and showed us how kids were performing by income, and also their ethnicity, and it demonstrated the huge achievement gap that exists in this county.
“All of us have different policy issues we focus on, but in my mind if you want to cure this problem of poverty in our country, the way to do that is by making sure that people can read when they’re in the first grade. That’s the most important thing we can do.”
DPS Superintendent Boasberg further demonstrated Colorado’s leadership and commitment to progressive education when he was invited to testify, commenting, “One key to our progress is our refusal to be imprisoned by the ideologically polarizing debates and false conflicts that we often see around us. We focus on what works for kids.”
The remarks by Sen. Bennet and Superintendent Boasberg are powerful reminders of the complicated challenges facing America’s children, and the urgency with which we must address them.
DFER-CO is confident that Colorado, with the help of visionary leaders such as Bennet and Boasberg, will continue to be a strong voice in the developing national conversation about reforming and updating ESEA.
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