The U.S. Department of Education hosted its monthly Education Stakeholders Forum this morning. Today’s meeting was the Department’s kick off for getting ESEA reauthorization started. The next several forums will focus on specific issued related to reauthorization.
Secretary Arne Duncan spoke about the urgency surrounding reauthorization and why we can’t wait: the United States lags behind other countries in terms of math and science achievement and college completion; twenty-seven percent of students drop out of school each year; 17-year olds are performing at the same levels in math and reading on the NAEP test as they were in the 1970’s. The Secretary succinctly put it this way: “We want to be first in the world again and to get there we cannot waste a minute. Every year counts. Every class counts. Every child counts.”
As for next steps, the Department plans on getting input from stakeholders at these forums and from parents, students and teachers during the Secretary’s Listening and Learning Tour. Based on this feedback, and in conjunction with the Congressional committees with jurisdiction over ESEA (Senate HELP and House Ed and Labor), the Department will draft a proposal for reauthorization.
During the Q&A portion of the meeting, Carmel Martin, Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development said that the four pillars of reform in Race to the Top will be carried forward in ESEA, but that they will not be the bulk of ESEA – it covers much more than Race to the Top.