After the newest NCLB was passed through the Senate Education and Workforce Committee, tea party Republicans and the National Educators Association (NEA)
– the largest teachers’ union in the United States – praised the bill and agreed on one backwards solution: remove all accountability included under NCLB. From the beginning,NEA has been on the wrong side of this debate when, back at the beginning of October, they publicly supported the Senate Republican version
of the bill that would remove any accountability from the bill and enable each and every state to find ad hoc solutions to problems that plague all of our schools.
On the other side of the fight is every major civil rights and educational advocacy group in the nation
. In a recent press release, the NAACP, ACLU, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and many others stated their grievances with the law: “As representatives of the millions of students with disabilities, low-income students, students of color, English-language learners and migrant students who are studying in our nation’s schools both boys and girls, we cannot support the [reauthorization of ESEA] at this time. The bill’s accountability system excludes the vast majority of children we represent, and is a major barrier to our organizations’ support.”
We weren’t the first to see the irony that somehow NEA has partnered with the same Republicans that would like to destroy the Department of Education, defund our public school system and fully supported Wisconsin’s anti-union law. But it is painfully obvious that they are putting grown ups first at any cost, even if it means partnering with those that oppose their very existence. Rather than proposing solutions to the failure that plague our schools, NEA instead supports removing any measure of success or failure at our schools. Unfortunately for our communities, while they may not want us to measure failure, it will continue to exist unless they take a real stand in favor of a kids first agenda.
While it isn’t shocking that NEA is putting the needs of grown ups first, we remain disappointed and surprised that they would oppose the civil rights groups that regularly allign with the union. As we have said, we fully support teachers unions and without their strong leadership, schools would be suffering far more ills today than they are but we adamantly oppose policies that put kids last. Removing accountability at our schools – whether at the state or national level – isn’t good for our kids and it doesn’t prepare our next generation of leaders for tomorrow’s challenges. We can’t continue to lower the expectations of our schools and celebrate the inconsequential victories when these new, pithy expectations are met. We cannot continue to praise a status quo while our children remain ill-prepared for the future. This cycle must be stopped.
Our families want our children to succeed by any measure of success whether that be at the state or national level but unfortunately our kids are out lobbied on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. It’s up to our elected officials to take a real leadership role to protect our public school system and demand better than failure from our schools.