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BRT Letter to Congressional Leaders Urging Action on ESEA

The Honorable Paul Ryan
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC  20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC  20510

The Honorable Harry Reid
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC  20510

Dear Leaders:

Under your leadership, Congress has a historic opportunity to improve educational outcomes for generations of American students by reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

On behalf of Business Roundtable, I am writing to urge you to appoint conferees as soon as possible. Further, we would ask that you to encourage the conferees to ensure the final bill holds America’s schools to the highest standards.

A prepared workforce is essential for U.S. employers of all sizes. This is how we guarantee a brighter future for our workers and their families. It all starts with a solid educational foundation. The K-12 education programs the bill would reauthorize provide states, districts, schools and teachers with the resources they need to make sure all students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college or a career.

Both the Senate and House versions of ESEA legislation contain elements that business leaders support, but more needs to be done to deliver a meaningful education to our students.

We ask you to encourage the conferees to strengthen ESEA’s accountability provisions. Schools should be required to implement support strategies in cases where students are not meeting state-defined achievement goals driven by objective academic indicators, such as state-developed assessment results and graduation rates. We ask students to be accountable for their progress. We should ask the same of their schools.

We further ask you to encourage conferees to ensure all states meet annual testing requirements in order to receive federal funds. Clear measures of student progress give us the best chance to make sure that schools are achieving their mission. States that fail to meet the requirement that they test 95 percent of their students annually should not be eligible to receive federal funding, including those states that allow parents to opt their children out of annual testing.

A strong K-12 education is important to the success of all students in our nation and, in turn, to the future of the American economy. ESEA offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make that future as bright as possible. Let’s make the most of this moment.


John Engler



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