The “ESEA” debate heats up today as the U.S. House begins voting on its version of the long-overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The House and Senate are working on competing versions of the bills and we expect this to be the beginning of a relatively long process.
Since the first versions of the ESEA over fifty years ago until 2001, services provided by the law were shared equitably regardless of where the child attended school. After 2001’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB), this equitable sharing of services for the benefit of children has gradually been eroded to the point where private school students are no longer receiving the same services at the same level as their public school counterparts.
H.R. 5 (the “Student Success Act”) is the House of Representatives’ version and takes the first steps in restoring equity in this area. Specifically, section 120 of H.R. 5 beings to address many of our concerns. According to the the Congressional website it includes the following provisions:
(Sec. 120) Requires states to designate an ombudsman to ensure that private school children receive educational services and benefits that are equitable to those received by public school children under subpart 1.
Directs states, rather than LEAs, to provide or arrange for the provision of such services and benefits to private schools in certain circumstances.
This is a good first step.
There are many with concerns about H.R. 5 on any number of issues. The ongoing debate over standards, parental rights and involvement, as well as the role of state and federal government in education are important debates.
The Iowa Association of Christian Schools asks that you contact your Senator and Representative and ask them to commit to supporting any provisions in a new ESEA bill that respect a parent’s choice to send their child to a nonpublic school and ensure that title funding equitably benefits children regardless of the school setting.
There will always be disagreements on the best way forward in education but we are hopeful that everyone can get behind serving these kids equitably as we have done for many decades prior to the NCLB. As long as title funding is available, government at all levels should work in partnership with parents and educators to provide the best possible education for that child without favoritism.