The People’s Alternative For Rebuilding the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
The People’s Alternative turns back the clock to a time when ESEA was a federal educational equity law.
The principles upon which the 1965 ESEA was based are not easy to fully grasp without digging deeply into the thought processes of its architects. But with growing awareness of inequities, it is time again to do some digging and reflecting. It’s time to restore this law’s purpose.
Subsequently, the law lost its focus on filling “needs gaps.” Now, the resulting law (ESSA – the Every Student Succeeds Act) focuses strongly on “outcome gaps” as determined by a narrow set of standards and “outcomes” from commercially-developed standardized testing.
Originally a mere 33 page law, the 1965 ESEA centered around the idea that communities must participate in improving educational opportunities.
The effectiveness of the 1965 ESEA was reliant upon a complex interdependency of its Titles. But here are the overarching guiding principles:
- providing material and resource supports, both in schools and within the community, focused on addressing the learning needs of economically disadvantaged children;
- improving the quality of education for all by disseminating and utilizing research findings, from the regional educational laboratories, focusing on improved educational opportunities for teachers, counselors, and principals;
- providing better information to families, educators, and communities in order to build successful & supportive partnerships, and
- supporting and facilitating school improvement processes for our schools and states through improvements in state departments of education.
The alternative ESEA proposal focuses federal funding back on the promise of improved educational quality and equal access to it.
Here is what restoring the original titles of the 1965 law would look like:
Title I : Funding is targeted for “needs” as identified through a comprehensive needs assessment. Priority is for “the education of children of low-income families.”
Title II : In addition to funding supports for school library resources, textbooks, and other instructional materials, quality learning opportunities will expand through establishing High-Needs Service Scholarships. To be used in public higher education institutions, it will support filling positions in high-demand subjects and high-needs areas.
Title III : In order to make wise use of existing community resources, the Title I comprehensive needs assessment is used to fund vital student supports identified as missing in the community.
Title IV : Known as the Cooperative Research Act, this Title supports educational research and training in public institutions. It stresses the dissemination of findings for use in classrooms and training.
Title V : With notable long-standing inequities between states, funds prioritize strengthening state departments of education where needed most. It focuses on providing assistance in identifying educational problems, issues, and needs in the State.
The People’s Alternative proposal is to use federal education dollars in the way originally intended by the 1965 ESEA.
The People’s Alternative was written in five days in 2015 because it was being said that Congress had NO ALTERNATIVE to ESSA. But there was no stopping the 114th Congress. Therefore, the CURRENT LAW DOES NOT RESTORE the aim of educational equity. Consequently, public education needs all of us to turn the energy of protests towards making this policy right.
It is up to us to rebuild our laws to restore progress towards equal opportunity.
Lawmakers need to make ESEA right! Demand it!