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Senators Carper, Coons Reiterate Support for USED Initiative to Provide States Flexibility in Opting out of Outdated Education Mandates

Press Release

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Location: Washington, DC

In response to President Obama's announcement today outlining how the administration will work with states to provide relief from select Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provisions, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) reiterates their support for providing states with flexibility in moving away from these unsuccessful education mandates.

"For years, states have complained that some of the requirements of No Child Left Behind did not grant them enough flexibility to meet student needs and achieve even better education results," Senator Carper said. "Today, the administration answered that call, granting states more flexibility, provided they pursue aggressive reforms designed to raise student achievement and school performance. The administration's decision is in line with the original goals of No Child Left Behind, namely that we must hold schools accountable in order to achieve real progress. I support the administration's decision, particularly because it will help states like Delaware that are already ahead of the curve, thanks to the efforts of Governor Markell and Secretary Lowery. While the decision is a welcomed one, we in Congress cannot lose sight of the real goal: comprehensive education reform. It's been 10 years since we passed No Child Left Behind, a law I strongly supported and helped craft. We've learned a lot about what works, what doesn't, and where we need to go. The best way to keep America's economy strong is to provide our children with the best possible education. We need to roll up our sleeves and pass comprehensive education reform this year."

"Earlier this month, I joined nine of my Senate colleagues on a letter to the U.S. Department of Education stating that while I'd prefer Congress moved quickly to reform and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, I would support the White House's initiative to work with states to amend a law that is hindering too many students," Senator Coons said. "I'm pleased with the proposals put forth by the administration today and I firmly believe that this flexibility plan will allow for serious state-led efforts to close achievement gaps, promote rigorous accountability, and ensure that Delaware's students remain on track to graduate college as highly educated and career-ready workers."

On September 9, Senators Carper and Coons joined eight other reform-minded Democratic senators on a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan saying that they would support the Department of Education's efforts to provide states with immediate relief from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), through waivers offered in exchange for compliance with needed reforms.

This call of support by Senators Carper and Coons coincides with a Friday morning press call by Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and New Jersey Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf on the impact reforms of NCLB, would have on Delaware, New Jersey and states across the Northeast.

The ESEA flexibility package announced today, developed with input from chief state school officers from 45 states, will spur momentum across America to implement a new educational system aligned to college- and career- readiness, even as the more comprehensive reforms outlined in the President's Blueprint for Reform await Congressional reauthorization of the ESEA.

This flexibility package was developed under the waiver authority explicitly granted to the U.S. Department of Education under the ESEA, and has been exercised under the previous Administration. The flexibility will begin to have an impact during the current 2011-2012 school year and will have increasing impact in subsequent years.


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