ESEA Reauthorization Bill Moving Fast, Could Harm Students with Disabilities
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, recently released a discussion draft bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), called the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015.”
Senator Alexander’s draft bill severely weakens key measures in current law that support students with disabilities to be able to achieve to their greatest potential.
Below are three parts of the bill that threaten quality education and the future of students with disabilities:
- Allowing any student with disabilities to be diverted from achieving a high school diploma;
- Teaching any child with disabilities weaker standards, therefore making them not ready for any post-secondary education and entry level jobs;
- Removing the decision-making from parents about what is taught and assessed for all students with disabilities.
To keep protections in place for children and youth with disabilities and to keep expectations high and keep open their opportunities in the future, tell your senator:
- that you have great expectations for your child and that you want schools to have those same high expectations;
- that students with disabilities should have the equal opportunity to earn a high school diploma and quality for a job;
- that the decision to remove your child from the curriculum that will allow him or her to graduate with a high school diploma should be your decision and no one else’s;
- that you oppose any revision to ESEA that allows for unlimited numbers of students to be assessed using an alternate assessment;
- that research tells us that less than 1% of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities need alternate assessments; and
- that no more than 1% students should be tested with an alternate assessment so that as many students as possible can earn a high school diploma, a chance to go on for further education, and the opportunity to work.
The reauthorization of ESEA is happening fast – purposely fast so that we don’t have time to oppose! Senator Alexander’s version could be very harmful to the future of children with disabilities. Your senators need to hear from you now about the issues above and that you OPPOSE the bill as it is currently written.
HERE’S HOW TO TAKE ACTION:
Call your Senators:
- Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your Senators
Note: The following sample message is written from a parent’s point of view. Please customize to fit your position, i.e. researcher, educator, etc.
Message: “I am calling to ask Senator _________ to oppose Sen. Alexander’s version of the reauthorization of ESEA and to make sure any reauthorization of ESEA includes all students with disabilities in the assessment and accountability systems using the same standards and assessments with accommodations. Students with disabilities can achieve, they can work, they can contribute to society, and they can go on to college and other education programs after high school. Don’t limit them by having low expectations and tracking their future as early as third grade. Limit the ability of schools to lower expectations for my child by limiting the use of lower standards and alternate assessments. The only people who should be able to make the decision to lower expectations for a child should be his or her parents. Senator Alexander’s draft bill puts the future of children with disabilities at risk. Please oppose Senator Alexander’s bill and keep the expectations for my child as high as possible.”