Press Release

AFT: Every Student Succeeds Act Opens New Chapter for Education

For Release: 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Janet Bass

WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Senate—and final congressional—approval of the Every Student Succeeds Act:

"Today's Senate vote of 85-12 on the Every Student Succeeds Act represents a significant course correction acknowledging that more than a decade's worth of education reforms based on test-and-sanction policies was a failure. The new law will give us the chance to press the reset button so public schools can be places where teachers want to teach, parents want to send their kids and students are engaged.

"Congress maintained the best of the original intent of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—funding for poor kids—while slamming the door on federally prescribed high-stakes consequences of testing. While the new bill doesn't solve all problems, it opens the way for districts across America to give teachers the latitude to teach so their kids can reach their God-given potential.

"For years, educators, parents and members of our broader communities were the canaries in the coal mine, crying out that hypertesting was hurting students, demoralizing teachers and frustrating parents. We will continue to be vigilant as work shifts to the states to fix accountability systems and develop teacher evaluation systems that are fair and aimed at improving and supporting good instruction. This new bill promises the creation of better accountability and support systems, and our students, their parents and their educators deserve nothing less.

"The bipartisan leadership and true partnership of Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) were instrumental in getting us to today's vote."

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.