Congress moves to reauthorize No Child Left Behind

Congress took the first step this week in reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as No Child Left Behind, which defines the federal government’s role in K-12 education.

For more than a decade, educators across the nation have raised red flags about the law’s unintended consequences, such as an overreliance on test scores, which have been used to categorize and punish school employees, students and schools.

“Students, parents and educators know the law isn’t working,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said, adding the “time has come for Congress to craft a fair, flexible, and innovative K-12 law that leads to real sustainable change for our children, while keeping the ESEA goals of equity and shared responsibility front and center.”

“We are accountable for student success, and we must ensure that the ESEA changes its current focus from punishing students, schools and educators to helping those most in need,” Van Roekel said. “Every student deserves committed, caring and qualified educators in her or his classroom.

“In order for the law to work, we must empower educators so they can focus on what’s important — student learning and achievement. Educators spend their lives and careers teaching — and protecting — their students. The ESEA must respect educators by empowering us and allowing us to focus on the kind of instruction that students need.”

For more information on the ESEA, go to