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John R.
Democrat RI

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  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Jack Reed

    Posted on 2015-01-06

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    REED (for himself and Mr. Brown): S. 37. A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide for State accountability in the provision of access to the core resources for learning, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.



    Mr. REED. Mr. President, today, I am pleased to reintroduce the Core Opportunity Resources for Equity and Excellence Act with my colleague Senator Brown. I would also like to thank Representative Fudge for introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives. This year, we will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Now is the time to reaffirm our commitment to educational equity, and in the words of President Johnson ``bridge the gap between helplessness and hope.'' As we embark upon reauthorizing this landmark legislation, we must ensure that our accountability systems in education measure our progress towards equity and excellence for all children. The CORE Act will help advance that goal by requiring states to include fair and equitable access to the core resources for learning in their accountability systems.

    More than 60 years after the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education, one of the great challenges still facing this nation is stemming the tide of rising inequality. We have seen the rich get richer while middle class and low-income families have lost ground. We see disparities in opportunity starting at birth and growing over a lifetime. With more than one in five school-aged children living in families in poverty, according to Department of Education statistics, we cannot afford nor should we tolerate a public education system that fails to provide resources and opportunities for the children who need them the most.

    We should look to hold our education system accountable for results and resources. And we know that resources matter. A recent study by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of California at Berkeley found that increasing per pupil spending by 20 percent for low-income students over the course of their K-12 schooling results in greater high school completion, higher levels of educational attainment, increased lifetime earnings, and reduced adult poverty.

    In addition to funding, there are other opportunity gaps that we need to address. Survey data from the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights show troubling disparities, such as the fact that Black, Latino, American Indian, Native Alaskan students, and English learners attend schools with higher concentrations of inexperienced teachers; nationwide, one in five high schools lacks a school counselor; and between 10 and 25 percent of high schools across the nation do not offer more than one of the core courses in the typical sequence of high school math and science, such as Algebra I and II, geometry, biology, and chemistry.

    We are reintroducing the CORE Act to ensure that equity remains at the center of our federal education policy. Specifically, the CORE Act will require state accountability plans and state and district report cards to include measures on how well the state and districts provide the core resources for learning to their students. These resources include: high quality instructional teams, including licensed and profession-ready teachers, principals, school librarians, counselors, and education support staff; rigorous academic standards and curricula that lead to college and career readiness by high school graduation and are accessible to all students, including students with disabilities and English learners; equitable and instructionally appropriate class sizes; up-to-date instructional materials, technology, and supplies; effective school library programs; school facilities and technology, including physically and environmentally sound buildings and well- equipped instructional space, including laboratories and libraries; specialized instructional support teams, such as counselors, social [[Page S20]] workers, nurses, and other qualified professionals; and effective family and community engagement programs.

    These are things that parents in well-resourced communities expect and demand. We should do no less for children in economically disadvantaged communities. We should do no less for minority students or English learners or students with disabilities.

    Under the CORE Act, States that fail to make progress on resource equity would not be eligible to apply for competitive grants authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. For school districts identified for improvement, the State would have to identify gaps in access to the core resources for learning and develop an action plan in partnership with the local school district to address those gaps.

    The CORE Act is supported by a diverse group of organizations, including the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, American Federation of Teachers, American Library Association, Coalition for Community Schools, Education Law Center, Fair Test, First Focus Campaign for Children, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association of School Psychologists, National Education Association, National Latino Education Research and Policy Project, Opportunity Action, Public Advocacy for Kids, Public Advocates, Inc., Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, and the Texas Center for Education Policy.

    Working with this strong group of advocates and my colleagues in the Senate and in the House, it is my hope that we can build the support to include the CORE Act in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. I urge my colleagues to join us by cosponsoring this legislation.

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