U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, spoke Dec. 2 on the House floor in support of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization, the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The bipartisan bill passed the House this week by a vote of 359-64 and the Senate is expected to finalize it next week.
This is the first reauthorization of the ESEA since the expiration of No Child Left Behind in 2007.
The following is Pocan’s statement on the floor:
I rise in support of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Defending public education is one of the reasons I came to Congress.
For years, we’ve witnessed a negative impact on public education from underfunding our schools and to stripping teachers of their rights to collectively bargain for fair pay and conditions. At the same time, punitive policies which limit teachers’ and administrators’ abilities to manage their classrooms have further hampered student achievement.
In my home state, attacks on public education are made on a regular basis. And nationally our dialogue surrounding K-12 education has lacked the input of local educators, parents and communities. It’s past time we renew the promise of an ESEA which has students’ best interests at heart.
I meet with teachers and administrators from Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District regularly and was stunned when I was told one third of a school’s staff turned over last year because schools lack the financial support and autonomy they need to give students the educational experience they deserve. Teachers are being asked to do more with less and it’s coming at the expense of our kids’ education.
A 2014 Alliance for Excellent Education student demonstrated that 13% of the nation’s 3.4 million teachers move schools or leave the profession every year. Close to 40-50% of teachers leave the job entirely within 5 years of starting.
And while this bill is far from perfect, I am pleased that we are finally discussing a bill today that aims to put students first and trusts the teachers who dedicate their careers to education.
This bill trusts and empowers teachers to ensure their voices are heard on the federal, state, and local level while increasing teacher quality and professional development, and reducing the burden of testing in schools.
Those are good improvements, Mr. Speaker, good for our nation’s children, and that’s why I support this bill.