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Department of Education
June 3, 2010
Dear Rev. Kinnamon and Rev. Chemberlin,
I’m in receipt of the May 18, 2010 letter that was sent on behalf of the Governing Board of The National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. to President Obama and Members of Congress that is entitled “A Pastoral Letter on Federal Policy in Public Education: An Ecumenical Call for Justice.”
We appreciate the attention and the support NCC is showing this most critical issue. Your outspokenness about disadvantaged students has been a very important voice in the fight for equal education for all children. We share your commitment to equity and justice in education. That is why this administration is charting a path to reform based on extensive experience and research to help ensure that all students have access to high-quality teaching and learning opportunities. Because of that shared value we are eager to continue our conversation as the administration and Congress move toward the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
As you know, our conversations
began when I presented to the NCC Committee on Public Education and Literacy
on November 5, 2009 in
The President has made education,
particularly improving the education of our neediest students, a priority
for this administration.
He set the goals that by
The President and the Secretary
are committed to achieving those goals with all students.
To address the issue of justice and equality in
education, we have made closing the achievement gap and raising standards
for all students the center point of the reauthorization of ESEA.
Closing the achievement
gap, which is the biggest injustice in American education today, is also the
basis of our ESEA goal to turn around the lowest performing schools in
blueprint calls for
We agree that ESEA reauthorization should expand educational opportunity, especially for the neediest students. That is why our proposal asks all states to adopt standards that measure whether students are prepared for college and careers, to ensure that all students, no matter their background, graduate from high school ready for the next step. Instead of accountability system based only on one test on one day, our proposal focuses on student growth and school progress, and asks districts to look at a broad range of data when determining how to help schools improve. To help avoid the narrowing of the curriculum that occurred under NCLB, our budget includes over $1 billion for programs that will provide a well-rounded education in high-need schools.
We also agree that teachers are absolutely critical to students’ success, and we believe that our proposals will elevate the profession of teaching by providing more support to teachers and principals than ever before, and by focusing on recruiting, preparing, developing, and rewarding effective teachers and leaders. In addition to supporting teachers and leaders, we also know the importance of supporting wraparound services and family engagement, and have proposed $1.8 billion for these programs, including through Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and Promise Neighborhoods.
The blueprint gives school districts and leaders a chance to leverage change with the resources that are currently available in their communities under federal funding. Historically, the federal share of K-12 education funding has been less than 10% of the national spending on K-12 education. Even during the significant addition of economic recovery dollars, the federal share is projected to spike only to 11.5%.Given these limited resources, the President’s education reform agenda is focusing on investing where we know we can have the greatest impact on increasing educational results for children. Experience has proven that simply spreading this funding through formula allocations is not delivering the outcomes for children that they deserve, since the dollars are not targeted enough to where there is the greatest need. We agree that we must address funding inequities. Our proposal would maintain formula funding streams that are focused on the highest-need students and require competitive dollars to be further targeted to ensure they are going directly to our highest need communities. Furthermore, our proposal would ask states and districts to measure and report on resource disparities and develop a plan to ensure resource equity at every level of the system. In addition to the formula funds for core programs such as Title 1, the administration is pursuing initiatives like Race to the Top. This relatively small investment has already been a catalyst for change at the local and state level.
Expanding high-quality public charter schools is but one component of these reforms to improve outcomes for low-income and minority students. In communities across the country, parents choose these autonomous non-selective public schools because they are delivering better results for children, and closing the achievement gap for poor and minority families. In addition to our program and funding reforms, we are also pursuing justice and equity through our reinvigorated Office of Civil Rights.
your pledge to partner on the national effort to reform the education of
It was faith leaders who led the
struggle for the integration of our schools.
It was faith leaders who
capitalized on that integration to push
forward to our continued discussion as we work together for all the children
Peter C. Groff
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's member faith groups — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.
NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell), email@example.com
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