Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Time to Get it Right

The following is the text of my letter to Congress, urging revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:

No Child Left Behind ushered in an era of urgency in American schools.  That urgency focused on obtaining, reporting and responding to vast quantities of testing data.  As Congress works to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) it is time to “get it right”.

There is broad consensus that schools need to look unrecognizably different in order to effectively prepare students for lives and work in a world we cannot even anticipate.  The workplace is changing rapidly, and the main thing we know is that today’s children will have to be much better than the current adult population at being innovative and at solving problems that they cannot anticipate far in advance.  Students will need to be able to solve problems unlike any they have ever seen before, and they will need to do it frequently and repeatedly.

The Carnegie Corporation of NY and The Institute on Advanced Study, in their report titled “The Opportunity Equation,” state the following: “The United States must mobilize for excellence in mathematics and science education so that all students — not just a select few, or those fortunate enough to attend certain schools — achieve much higher levels of math and science learning. Over the coming decades, today’s young people will depend on the skills and knowledge developed from learning math and science to analyze problems, imagine solutions, and bring productive new ideas into being. The nation’s capacity to innovate for economic growth and the ability of American workers to thrive in the global economy depend on a broad foundation of math and science learning, as do our hopes for preserving a vibrant democracy and the promise of social mobility for young people that lie at the heart of the American dream.”

It is imperative that the adults of today are able to be sufficiently innovative, and to think with enough creativity and flexibility to  allow educators to lead the way to the development of a transformed educational system.  Educators must be empowered to lead and to develop solutions which are responsive not only to test data, but also to the unique needs, challenges and strengths of individual schools, districts and communities.  The collective knowledge of millions of highly qualified education professionals must be allowed and enabled to lead our schools forward so that all children, in all schools and from all backgrounds will have the opportunity to live their lives free of poverty doing work that contributes to a vibrant and healthy economy and society.

Rewrite ESEA, and on behalf of every American child, it’s time to “get it right.”


The Carnegie Corporation of NY and The Institute for Advanced Study. “The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy.” 2009. http://carnegie.org/fileadmin/Media/Publications/PDF/OpportunityEquation.pdf