Congressman Fattah Statement on ESEA Reauthorization and Its Implications for Education Reform in Pennsylvania

Jul 08, 2015, 11:33 ET from Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) issued the following statement on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reauthorization—currently known as No Child Left Behind—and the recently released White House report, "Giving Every Child a Fair Shot." The House of Representatives is expected to vote on reauthorizing ESEA this week. Fattah has been recognized as Congressional leader in education policy; he is the architect of GEAR UP, the nation's most successful college preparedness program and was the co-creator of the Department of Education's Equity and Excellence Commission:

"This week, the White House issued a report, "Giving Every Child a Fair Shot," detailing information and statistics on the performance of schools in each state. I share the President's assessment that as a nation we have seen meaningful progress in improving student outcomes and increasing graduation rates. However, there is much more to be done, and there are too many states around the country—including Pennsylvania—that are falling behind when it comes to student achievement and educational equity.

"It is imperative that every student, regardless of their zip code or economic background, is given the same opportunity to succeed. This means equal access to quality teachers, sufficient school resources and support, and funding.  Unfortunately, we are working within an outdated piece of legislation—No Child Left Behind—that cannot sufficiently address the educational needs of today's students and teachers.  As Congress looks to reauthorize ESEA this week, we must ensure that we are prioritizing a bill that enables states and local districts the flexibility to implement locally-driven reforms, promotes equal funding and resources, invests in early education, provides incentives and recognition for innovation and success, and puts our children first.

"Earlier this spring, the Department of Education released data showing Pennsylvania schools as the most inequitable in the nation. This came as no surprise to anyone in Philadelphia, where as a city we have watched for years as many of our low-performing schools have persistently remained low performing.

"The Governor and legislators across the Commonwealth must find common ground and must work together to craft a mindful budget that supports the resources necessary to close the achievement gap for all Pennsylvania students and ensures that our most needy schools not only receive more equitable funding, but also increased attention targeted at solving their unique challenges. Without serious education reform and funding parity, Pennsylvania cannot turn around its low-performing schools and produce the type of achievement gains necessary for our students to meet the most basic academic standards.  If the status quo continues, it is inevitable that our city and state economies will suffer, hindering their ability to attract businesses seeking a well-educated, highly skilled workforce.

"The White House report tells us what those in the education policy community already know; that with the right leadership, commonsense reform, innovative thinking, and alignment of resources, states and school districts can witness dramatic progress in changing student outcomes. Philadelphia can learn from successful initiatives like those highlighted in Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Denver.

"I am encouraged by these success stories and others from around the country. I know Philadelphia can do better, and I know our nation can do better. As Congress turns its attention to this bill this week, I will only support a final product that sufficiently addresses the challenges of our modern education system and protects students' rights, ensuring every young person equal access to the educational instruction and support necessary to prepare them for college and beyond."


SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah