The Dec. 10 signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act marks a new day in public education, says AFT President Randi Weingarten, who stood behind President Obama (along with other AFT leaders and members) at the White House as he signed the law.
"For nearly 15 years, we've been treading water as top-down, test-and-sanction-based reforms failed to help all kids succeed," she says "Parents, students and educators came together with one message: 'Enough with the testing fixation. Let's bring back the joy of learning.' Legislators on both sides of the aisle listened, worked with one another and delivered.
"This law will usher in the most sweeping, positive changes to public education we've seen in two decades. It keeps the best of the original intent of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, targeting funding to support the disadvantaged schools and children who need it most. It significantly reduces the stakes and the amount of testing. It ensures that the federal government can no longer require these tests as part of teacher evaluation. And it makes public education a joint responsibility.
"Our work is only beginning, and our members are ready to roll up their sleeves at the state level, partner with community, and send the message that the policies of No Child Left Behind, waivers and Race to the Top should be abandoned, not replicated.
"This is the reset we've been fighting for in federal education policy. Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we get back to work."
[AFT press release]