The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

NEWSFLASH: Congress and the president got it wrong with No Child Left Behind.

The following  information was originally put on this website as part of a petition effort during the ESEA reauthorization process.  All information is still relevant. … Please read on.

Will the country let another congress and another president damage our public school system in the same way again? Don’t we know any better?

About ESEA (The Elementary and Secondary Education Act)

Originating in 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) began as a 35 page law that has grown into the 670 page law currently known as No Child Left Behind. The aim, goal, methods for reaching the goal, the educational practices required to be compliance with this law, and its mechanism for congressional oversight have all been changed over time.

VIEW The People’s ALTERNATIVE ESEA here. WE aren’t playing any games. We’re serious about our children’s education.

Both congressional actions and their inaction have created the problems we see associated with No Child Left Behind. It is a disaster that was decades in the making.

With the reauthorization of ESEA NOW before Congress, we have the opportunity to return this law to the aim, goals, methods and measures of success that served the country for twenty years —during a time when the achievement gap narrowed significantly—before being taken over by the politics of policymakers that did not respect ESEA’s guiding principles .

The original AIM: To even the playing field for children of poverty, all children in impoverished schools, and all children with disadvantages of various kinds by ensuring they had equal access to quality education.

The original NATIONAL GOALS: To strengthen and improve the Nation’s elementary and secondary schools.

The original METHODS for reaching the goals: Through federal funding designated for:

  • meeting the needs of children from low-income families,
  • school library and other instructional materials,
  • “vitally needed educational services” and centers,
  • educational research, training, and dissemination of information, and
  • to assist State educational agencies in improving themselves.

The original MEASURES were based on an assessment of educational needs: Through targeted “objective measures of educational achievement” to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs, supported by ESEA funding, “in meeting the special educational needs of educationally deprived children.”

The original EMPHASIS on quality research: By adopting “effective procedures” derived from educational research, demonstrations, and projects supported by federal funding for use across the nation.

The original NATIONAL OVERSIGHT mechanism: A National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged Children would review “the administration and operation of this title, including its effectiveness in improving the educational attainment of educationally deprived children” and would do so by taking “into consideration experience gained under this and other Federal educational programs for disadvantaged children…” which would be presented to Congress and the president annually.

This petition failed as did the 114th Congress with its reauthorization named the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The expectation was that Congress and the president would act based upon evidence and experience.

Based upon evidence and experience, No Child Left Behind is not fixable. It is a policy broken beyond repair. Replacement is an option. Did replacement with the Every Student Succeeds Act  (ESSA) fix it?

We can return to the origin of the law and add in what time, experience, and research has taught us will work best for children.

Over the last 16 years, experience has shown that asking nicely, offering suggestions, and expecting reasonable actions by Congress doesn’t work.

The Alternative to the ESEA Reauthorization of 2015 can only be placed before the eyes of Congress and the president by demanding it — stop the current process; consider the alternative.   #MakeESEAright

Make the calls (federal, state, and local listings at the following link). Let your representatives know what you demand.

Demand they review the alternative. #RepealESSA

4 thoughts on “The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

    1. Thank you for your interest in ESEA.

      I’ve written much more about this law over the years. It feels like I’ve tried to clarify the same points in many different ways. Here is one attempt on my book (personal) website

      I also have a “Federal Education Law” page that I have changed multiple times. So, please, feel free to explore that other site on your own using the search box or ask again. I’d love to actually discuss the law any time. Thanks again for your interest. 🙂

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