Alliance President Calls for ESEA Reauthorization in 2010 to Attack Dropout Crisis that Claimed More than 7,800 of Iowa's Students in 2009

Washington, DC - Today marks the eighth birthday of the signing of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the most recent version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Reauthorization of the law, which was due in 2007, has yet to occur. For every year that Congress fails to address the unique challenges faced by high schools through a reauthorization of ESEA, approximately 1.3 million students across the nation will drop out of school. In Iowa alone, more than 7,800 students left high school in 2009 prior to earning their diploma.

"In many ways, NCLB is a compact disc in an iPod world," said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. "It's still around, but it is in desperate need of an upgrade.

"The best birthday present for Iowa's students is for the Congress and President Obama to enact a new ESEA. It's time to blow out the candles and bake a new cake.

"NCLB rightly deserves credit for requiring schools to report data that focused attention on educational disparities for various groups of students. Unfortunately, due to shortcomings in the law's design and implementation, most improvements in learning outcomes for the nation's elementary school students have not been echoed by their middle and high school counterparts.

"In their brief tenure, President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have actively recognized the high school crisis, focused on turning around the lowest-performing schools, and called on the nation to graduate all students ready for college and careers. Over the last several years, congressional leaders have held hearings and developed legislative proposals based on research and best practice that demonstrate ways to improve the law. However, until research, discussions, hearings, and legislative proposals are actually turned into an ESEA reauthorization, none of these positive changes will reach the countless high school students and teachers in thousands of classrooms.

"This eighth birthday should be a commitment that 2010 is the year to harness the progress and increase momentum around high school reform into a reauthorized ESEA that strategically addresses the high school crisis and begins turning the more than one million dropouts a year into high school graduates who are ready for college and careers.

"Today, our message to the Congress and President Obama is, 'Don't delay. Reauthorize ESEA.'"


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