WASHINGTON—At a White House ceremony President Barack Obama today signed into law S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan and bicameral bill to reauthorize the federal education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García joined the president. Mary Jo Bremner, a teacher at Browning High School on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana, and Sabrina Peacock, a third grade math teacher in Guilford County, North Carolina, also joined President Obama and President Eskelsen García at the White House signing ceremony.
“This new law is a well-deserved victory for our nation because the Every Student Succeeds Act will create greater opportunity for every student regardless of ZIP Code,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Educators welcomed the end of No Child Left Behind and the beginning of a new era in public education in schools.”
“After 15 years of not having a say in public education, I feel very humbled and privileged to witness the signing of this new education law,” said Mary Jo Bremner, a teacher at Browning High School on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. “In my mind, other people get to see things like this, not me. But this is awesome. My hope is we’ll now get back to where teachers can actually teach and all students can receive the type of education that ignites their curiosity and desire to learn.”
Throughout the reauthorization process, NEA’s focus has been threefold: elevate the voices of educators in the policymaking process, decouple standardized testing from high stake decisions, and create an “opportunity dashboard” to help close opportunity gaps in needy schools. Based on these measures, ESSA has the potential to be a game-changer.
“I am so excited to have been in the room to witness this signing ceremony,” said the North Carolina third grade teacher, Sabrina Peacock. “Now my children will be able to say to their grandchildren that their grandmother was there when this historic legislation was signed into law. This was a collective effort involving educators, parents and entire communities—all coming together for our kids. With this legislation, what we are doing for one we are doing for all students. It’s great to see that our voice does make a difference,” concluded Peacock.
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the bill last week, and the Senate followed suit on Wednesday.
“We commend Congress for the bipartisan cooperation, leadership and hard work to get the job done for students and educators,” said Eskelsen García. “We thank President Obama for signing this important bill into law. Now our work begins in earnest as we shift our attention toward implementation. We look forward to working closely with state and local policymakers, as well as other key stakeholders, to raise our voice to deliver on the promise of ESSA and to provide opportunity for all students.”
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December 8, 2015 – WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate today approved S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan and bicameral bill to reauthorize the federal education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law as soon as this week.
“Today, the U.S. Senate took a bold and historic step to usher in a new era in public education,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “This is a deserved victory for public education because the Every Student Succeeds Act will ensure all students have equal opportunity to a high-quality public education regardless of ZIP Code.”
Students and educators have lived with the unintended consequences of the failed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for more than 14 years. NEA members have waged an unprecedented mobilization and advocacy campaign on behalf of the nation’s students in an effort to turn the page on the failed NCLB law and to bring in a new federal education law that provides more opportunity for all students.
“Educators will have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions that affect their students and classrooms,” said Eskelsen Garcia. “This legislation begins to close the opportunity gaps for students by providing a new system that includes an ‘opportunity dashboard’ with indicators of school success and student support. Not only does it reduce the amount of standardized testing in schools, but it decouples high-stakes decisions and statewide testing so students have more time to develop critical thinking while educators do what they love — inspire a lifelong love of learning.”
For NEA’s members, the stakes couldn’t have been higher. The extraordinary effort to get Congress to rewrite NCLB, which NEA launched in earnest in February with its “Get ESEA Right” national campaign, and peaking this past summer when both legislative chambers passed their respective bills, resulted in a unprecedented bipartisan and bicameral compromise and eventual bill language in late November. The bill sailed through the U.S. House with a vote of 359 in favor to 64 against.
Leading up to ESSA’s passage, educators mobilized across the nation, using face-to-face meetings with lawmakers, phone calls, petitions, emails and social media to urge Congress to bring the joy of teaching and learning back to the classroom and help close opportunity and resource gaps so that all students have access to a well-rounded education. NEA national leadership, along with state and local affiliate leaders, board members, staff, and educators nationwide, made nearly a half million individual contacts to members of Congress.
“We applaud the U.S. Senate for listening to educators and getting the job done for students,” said Eskelsen García. “We commend Congress for putting students and educators ahead of politics especially in an era of political gridlock. We urge President Barack Obama to swiftly sign the bill into law.”