Washington, DC – This morning, in response to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s speech on the need to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, made the following statement:
“The stimulus package introduced Race to the Top; Secretary Duncan’s call to begin work on the Elementary and Secondary Act can push vitally needed education reform ‘over the top.’
“With one third of our nation’s high school students dropping out, and another third graduating unprepared for college or careers, delaying is neither an acceptable education policy—nor a smart political strategy.
“Each day that ESEA reauthorization is put off is another day that millions of our nation’s high school students are practically ignored. The current No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) neither effectively addresses nor funds this vital period in a student’s educational career. Just when our young people reach the jumping off place for college and careers, the federal support drops off.
“Reauthorizing ESEA is both smart for education policy as well as economic growth. The Alliance for Excellent Education reported recently that the students from the Class of 2009 who did not graduate from high school will cost this nation $335 billion in lost lifetime wages. An ESEA that truly improves student outcomes will be as important to this nation’s economy as the vast array of bailouts and stimulus packages.
“By taking up ESEA now, the Congress and Administration can help support schools to prepare millions of America’s students to succeed in an increasingly competitive global job market while also helping to rebuild and restructure the thousands of schools that are performing below expectations.
“Some have urged delaying the complex policy and political issues in ESEA until a later time, but enacting a new ESEA can build upon the data gathering and accountability strengths of NCLB while building in the reforms and remedies that truly improve student outcomes.”
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life. For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit www.all4ed.com.