January 24, 2007
American Association of School Administrators Statement on State of the Union Address
ARLINGTON, Va. – The American Association of School Administrators, the professional organization for school superintendents and other school system leaders nationwide, today issued the following statement on President Bush’s State of the Union address:
“We are disappointed in President Bush’s plans for education, which he mentioned in his State of the Union message last night. The President reiterated his plans to ‘stay the course’ with his badly flawed program created by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. He claims the program has been successful, when teachers, parents and children know that its main success has been in diverting attention and energy away from real learning and a comprehensive curriculum. While the President acknowledged that changes needed to be made to the law and flexibility would be required, his overall approach failed to consider the destructive elements of his policy and how they might be addressed differently in the future.
“The President holds fast to the idea that ‘accountability’ must be pursued by a coercive process of federal oversight built upon a few rewards and a great deal of punishment, and his unbending belief that student achievement is the equivalent of a single test given to every child every year. It should be noted that other countries that are economic competitors have found ways of shaping accountability to be a process of continuous improvement carried out in a collaborative manner.
“The President, like most Americans, is concerned with our ability to stay internationally competitive. However, his unbending support of a law that that narrows and minimizes the educational experience undercuts the very creativity and innovation necessary to be competitive in the international environment.
“The President’s ideas for privatizing education under the cloak of parental choice has actually weakened the very skills and children his program purports to help by siphoning off higher achieving children and resources to private and more privileged schools. His proposal to create two new voucher programs will not ensure increased student achievement; it will simply divert federal tax dollars from public schools to private schools that are not held to the same standards the President espouses.
“During the five years NCLB has been in place, several of its underlying assumptions have inhibited students’ progress. For example, the law has failed to take into account the individual learning needs of students in special education and students with limited English proficiency. Under NCLB, students are judged on a single test score, rather than multiple measures that more accurately reflect students’ individual growth and learning during the school year. In addition, the law’s focus on reading and math test results has led to a narrowing of the curriculum, which limits schools’ ability to offer children the broad education they need to succeed in life.
“There is a better way to proceed to close the achievement gap and increase student achievement. We support a fundamental transformation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to restore the law’s original intent to provide equitable educational opportunities for all children. We ask the Congress to join us in an effort to transform the current version of ESEA. Specifically, we ask that the Congress enact and the President support:
-A law and regulations based on trust and an assumption that teachers and principals are trying their best to improve the achievement of all students, including low-income students;
-Continued improvement of how student achievement is measured and data is used to assess group scores and individual progress;
-Selecting a goal for progress in student achievement that is attainable;
-Focusing the federal government’s role in education on providing support and developing capacity for improvement, rather than emphasizing sanctions; and
-Engaging parents of low-income students as regular participants and partners in their children’s achievement.”
About AASA The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders across America and in many other countries. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. AASA’s major focus is standing up for public education. For more information about this press release, please contact Amy Vogt, communications and media relations manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-875-0723.