The statewide opposition to Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus is called Stronger Together (ST Caucus). The ST leadership put out a statement this past weekend on the flawed Every Child Succeeds Act. The long overdue renewal of federal federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act has already passed the House of Representatives, is almost 100% certain to sail through the Senate and be signed by the President.
We have previously relied on experts Mercedes Schneider and Diane Ravitch to analyse the flawed bill which continues mandated standardized testing but shifts much of the responsibility from the federal government to the states. Test the kids and punish the schools and teachers certainly can continue under the new law.
We are not surprised that our union leadership at the UFT, NEA and AFT is backing this bill. In fact in the weekly UFT Chapter Leader Newsletter they are encouraging us to contact our senators to vote for the Every Child Succeeds Act. Our unions also supported the federal disasters known as No Child Left Behind and President Obama's Race to the Top that have decimated our profession and our public schools.
It is commendable to see the opposition in NYSUT acknowledging the positive aspects of the bill but also being highly critical of the negative features. ST Caucus is not having a party or telling us to urge our senators to support a defective bill.
The full ST Caucus statement is below.
The ST Caucus Leadership cannot celebrate the changes in the re-authorization of ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act). While the federal decoupling of the teacher evaluations from the tests is a necessary first step, these changes do NOT go far enough in remediating the damage that High Stakes Tests have on students and schools, and do not adequately address the needs of special education students, English Language Learners and struggling schools. The discontinuation of irresponsible and harmful annual testing, which is expressly designed for political expediency to create the illusion of failure, must be included in the changes. While we can applaud the move to return control to states and local school boards, the legislation perpetuates a twenty-year-long failed experiment that solely benefits corporations and their investors, and leaves children behind. The reality is that ESEA will become law, but we need to continue to fight to make this flawed legislation better. The ST Caucus and its coalition partners will continue to raise their collective voice to advocate on behalf of students, parents, teachers and public education.