Education is Back in Your Hands, Arizona

December 15, 2015
Editorial
When Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act from the lawn of his boyhood schoolhouse, he said, “No law I have signed — or will ever sign — means more to the future of America.” ESEA was a major part of President Johnson's civil rights agenda. He knew the best way to combat poverty is to give all children, regardless of race, ethnicity, language, country of origin, income, disability or immigration status, access to a good education.
 
Fifty years later, that fact remains true, particularly true in diverse states like Arizona with the majority of students being of color.

That’s why Congress has reauthorized ESEA numerous times over the last five decades, including in 2002 when the law became known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This week, Congress voted – and I supported – another reauthorization for an additional four years. While the program is secure in the short term, I worry it won’t survive the Republican Party’s increasing efforts to undermine our public education system in the long run.

It was clear in March of this year that the education legislation the GOP was pushing in the House was a reauthorization in name only. The so-called Student Success Act, or H.R. 5, intentionally dismantled our 50 year commitment to help our nation’s most vulnerable children. It removed federal accountability for our nation's schools by ending the requirement that states set high standards for students to be college and career ready. School districts would no longer need to demonstrate learning growth for English language learners and would have lower teaching standards for students with disabilities. Instead of viewing failing students as the greatest challenge for our education system to overcome, the GOP’s bill left kids behind and relieved states of the responsibility for closing achievements gaps. 

Read Rep. Gijalva's full op-ed here.
 
That’s why Congress has reauthorized ESEA numerous times over the last five decades, including in 2002 when the law became known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This week, Congress voted – and I supported – another reauthorization for an additional four years. While the program is secure in the short term, I worry it won’t survive the Republican Party’s increasing efforts to undermine our public education system in the long run.When Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act from the lawn of his boyhood schoolhouse, he said, “No law I have signed — or will ever sign — means more to the future of America.”
 
ESEA was a major part of President Johnson's civil rights agenda. He knew the best way to combat poverty is to give all children, regardless of race, ethnicity, language, country of origin, income, disability or immigration status, access to a good education.
 
Fifty years later, that fact remains true, particularly true in diverse states like Arizona with the majority of students being of color.
 
That’s why Congress has reauthorized ESEA numerous times over the last five decades, including in 2002 when the law became known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This week, Congress voted – and I supported – another reauthorization for an additional four years. While the program is secure in the short term, I worry it won’t survive the Republican Party’s increasing efforts to undermine our public education system in the long run.