Let's talk policy and politics: Your voice matters


No Child Left Behind is on the verge of becoming history. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act - the federal government's omnibus law (called NCLB in its current form) that governs federal education mandates and funding. While there are voices calling for a delay in the Senate vote to allow for more discussion about the legislation and its implications, the bill appears headed for passage.

Unfortunately, the new legislation - called the Every Student Succeeds Act - continues a destructive commitment to annual standardized testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school. It does, however, return some control over how tests are used to state and local governments. The U.S. Department of Education, for example, could no longer mandate teacher evaluations, opening up space for us to turn back state regulations requiring that student test scores and District-Determined Measures be part of those evaluations.

In this and other ways, the legislation moves the struggle over testing and accountability to the state level. We will know more about our opportunities for change once the regulations are written and this gigantic act is more thoroughly analyzed and dissected. We will also know more about what dangers might be hidden in the legislation that we need to be attentive to and ready to defend against.

One thing is clear: Politics affects policy, and policy affects our work and the experiences that young people have in the classroom.  We need to engage in the political process.

The MTA is holding seven regional forums through Jan. 7 in order to give members a chance to speak with one another about the issues they care about and the ways they want to participate in the political process and use our collective power to create the public schools and colleges our communities deserve.

To join the conversation, go here to register. Topics will include:

  • Which issues, statewide and nationally, are most important to you?
  • How would you like to engage in state and national elections?
  • How can we best use our collective power to influence the elections and the legislative process?
  • How do we hold elected officials accountable for supporting our priorities?

These are important issues. I hope to see many of you at the forums.

In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great things ahead,