“The legislation unveiled today by Senators Harkin and Enzi is especially important for the nation’s high schools,” said Wise.
WASHINGTON, DC – This afternoon, U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) Committee, released draft legislation to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind. In response, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, made the following statement:
“Patience is no virtue in education reform, and the nation’s students have waited long enough for more effective education policy coming from Washington. With this bill, they are one step closer to getting it.
“The legislation unveiled today by Senators Harkin and Enzi is especially important for the nation’s high schools. For too long, high schools have been overlooked by federal education policy. This proposal would concentrate improvement efforts on high schools with graduation rates below 60 percent, often referred to as ‘dropout factories.’ It would establish a common, accurate calculation of graduation rates, helping to ensure that the nation’s high schools are held accountable for preparing students for college and careers. It would also support comprehensive efforts by states to strengthen the literacy skills of all students, including young people in high school.
“In today’s knowledge-based economy, students must have the ability to learn, analyze, and apply knowledge as never before. Unfortunately, many states have had education standards that fell far short of preparing students for the future workforce. The proposal released today supports the effort underway in nearly every state to raise standards and ensure that students graduate from high school ready for college and careers.
“Additionally, this proposal will help to ensure that high schools are supported through Title I, the federal government’s primary source of financial support for low-income students. Under current law, high schools only receive 10 percent of Title I funding, though they serve nearly one-quarter of low-income students. Over time, low-income high school students will finally receive the support they deserve from this cornerstone of federal education policy.
“As the Congress moves forward, it is critical that policymakers include provisions holding all schools accountable for student success. While a federal focus on the lowest-performing schools is logical-especially when resources are scarce-federal law should ensure that all low-performing schools improve-whether they are in the bottom 5 percent, or somewhere in the middle of the pack. Nearly 200,000 students of color drop out of high schools with estimated graduation rates above 60 percent. Federal law should help to ensure that these students have the opportunity to attend high-quality schools as well.
“Education has traditionally been a bipartisan issue. In today’s polarized climate, this legislation provides an opportunity for the Congress to show the American people that students are a higher priority than politics.”
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit www.all4ed.com.