This morning, President Obama signed the new iteration of the 50-year old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Before signing the bill the President concluded his statement by saying, “A Christmas miracle! A bipartisan bill signing, right here!” The overall consensus regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reflects President Obama's exclamations. From the American Library Association (ALA) to the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The distinguishing factor of the law is that more power and flexibility is given to the states in an effort to allow districts the freedom in developing a more personalized and effective curriculum for their unique population of students.
American Federation of Teachers (AFT): “We will continue to be vigilant as work shifts to the states to fix accountability systems and develop teacher evaluation systems that are fair and aimed at improving and supporting good instruction,” said AFT president Randi Weingarten in reference to the bill's elimination of the federal mandate that teacher evaluations be tied to student performance on standardized tests.
ALA: "We are just so pleased," Sari Feldman, the 2015-16 president of the American Library Association, said in an interview. "School libraries and school librarians are really recognized as critical education partners in this bill."
TESOL: "The recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in the U.S. House of Representatives is a major step forward in bringing significant changes to public education in the United States. TESOL International Association is encouraged that this effort to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) keeps a strong focus on supporting the needs of ELLs and is moving forward in a bipartisan manner."
President Obama's full statement: “I'm proud to sign a law that is going to make sure that every student is prepared to succeed in the 21st century. First, this law focuses on a national goal of ensuring that all of our students graduate prepared for college and future careers. It builds on the reforms that helped us make progress already, holding everybody to high standards for teaching and learning, empowering states and school districts to develop their own strategies for improvement, dedicating resources to our most vulnerable children. Second, this bill makes long overdue fixes to the last education law, replacing the one-size-fits-all approach to reform with a commitment to provide every student with a well-rounded education. It helps states and districts reduce unnecessary standardized tests. What we want to do is get rid of unnecessary standardized tests so that more teachers can spend time engaging in student learning while at the same time making sure that parents and teachers have clear information on their children's academic performance. Number three: we know that the early years can make a huge difference in a child's life, so this law lays the foundation to expand high-quality pre-schools, and it creates incentives for innovative approaches for learning and for supporting great teachers. With this bill we reaffirm that fundamentally American ideal that every child regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make out of their lives what they will. A Christmas miracle! A bipartisan bill signing, right here!”
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