NEA president to Administration: “Takes working together to improve schools”

WASHINGTON—The White House forwarded the Obama administration’s “blueprint” for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to Congress on March 15. The following statement was released by Dennis Van Roekel, president of the 3.2-million-member National Education Association:

“We are disappointed by this first effort by the Administration to rectify the considerable problems in the current federal education law.

“What excited educators about President Obama’s hopes and vision for education on the campaign trail has not made its way into this blueprint. We were expecting to see a much broader effort to truly transform public education for kids. Instead, the accountability system of this ‘blueprint’ still relies on standardized tests to identify winners and losers. We were expecting more funding stability to enable states to meet higher expectations. Instead, the ‘blueprint’ requires states to compete for critical resources, setting up another winners-and-losers scenario. We were expecting school turnaround efforts to be research-based and fully collaborative. Instead, we see too much top-down scapegoating of teachers and not enough collaboration.

“The public knows that struggling schools need a wide range of targeted actions to ensure they succeed, and yet the Administration’s plan continues to call for prescriptions before the actual problems are diagnosed. We need proven answers along with the deep insight of the experienced professionals who actually work in schools.

“We know that it takes all stakeholders working together to improve our schools. The Administration’s plan leaves out students’ first teachers—their parents. There is no attempt in the ‘blueprint’ to support parents’ efforts to be more involved in their children’s education.

“The National Education Association cannot support the Administration’s plan at this time. We are sharing the ‘blueprint’ with our members so their voices are heard. We intend to engage in a productive dialogue to meet the needs of students, educators and public schools.”

The release of the blueprint marks the beginning of a process that is expected to unfold over the months ahead. It is important that as this occurs, MTA members’ views are included in the debate. Please click on the following link to an NEA survey on ESEA to make sure your input is included as we move forward in responding to this important legislation and seeking crucial revisions:

For more information about NEA’s principles for the reauthorization of ESEA, visit