New Democrats Release ESEA Reauthorization Framework

Dec 2, 2011
Press Release

Education reform is crucial for U.S. competitiveness and growth

Washington, D.C. – Today, the 42-Member New Democrat Coalition released a framework for the reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) designed to ensure American students receive a world-class education to compete for jobs in the 21st century global economy.  The principles, which were developed by the New Democrat Coalition Education Task Force under the leadership of Representatives Susan Davis (CA-53) and Jared Polis (CO-02), have been endorsed by the full Coalition. 

The framework calls for a comprehensive approach to reauthorizing ESEA that provides all students a well-rounded education, prepares them for college and the workforce, ensures there is an effective teacher in every classroom and encourages innovative educational approaches.  Moving forward, the New Dems are committed to working with the Committee on Education and the Workforce, House Leadership and the Administration to improve our education system. 

"I'm pleased with the priorities we were able to set forth with these principles, particular as we work toward the reauthorization of ESEA," said Representative Susan Davis, New Dem Education Task Force Co-Chair. "These principles will guide us in promoting best practices learned from schools, including charter and magnet schools, and replicate in other schools for positive outcomes.  We need to encourage non-traditional approaches to education, such as partnerships with the private sector, to encourage innovation in education. We then need to find successful ways to disseminate this information to discover innovative ways to improve educator effectiveness for better student outcomes."

“America’s children must never be trapped in schools that fail to prepare them to compete and succeed in the global economy. The new Elementary and Secondary Education Act must reform No Child Left Behind where necessary but not weaken its commitment to accountability at all levels. New Democrats will work with members on both sides of the aisle to reauthorize ESEA this year but as these principles make clear, we will support legislation that includes meaningful, effective strategies to improve student achievement,” Said Representative Jared Polis, New Dem Education Task Force Co-Chair. 

New Democrats’ Principles for
Fixing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

As Members of the New Democratic Coalition, we firmly believe well-educated students are the foundation for a strong workforce, globally competitive businesses, and sustainable economic growth.  Every student deserves a first-rate education that equips them with the tools and skills to compete and succeed in the global economy.  Working together, we can fix elements of our education system that do not work, strengthen our schools by embracing ideas that have proven successful, reward excellence and improve the effectiveness of our teachers and principals.

The New Democrats are committed to working with the Administration and colleagues in the House and Senate to achieve the following goals in the reauthorization of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA):

Access to a quality, well-rounded education for all students

  • Provide quality early childhood education programs.
  • In collaboration with educators, community leaders and parents, improve outcomes for students in the lowest-performing schools by offering districts and strong school leaders support and flexibility to achieve dramatic and meaningful improvement goals using research-based turnaround solutions. 
  • Close the achievement, opportunity and skills gaps by setting annual achievement and growth goals for student subgroups and holding all schools accountable for making progress toward these gap closing goals that reflect increased achievement for all students. 
  • Enhance public reporting of all schools’ data on school-wide achievement and growth and other important school-related data to inform student improvement.
  • Ensure Title I funds are distributed to high need schools, make transparent school-by-school per pupil funding levels, and ensure those levels provide a common baseline to which federal Title I funding adds real value, to ensure all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, income or physical location, have access to a quality education.
  • Ensure that students have access to a wide range of classes that contribute to school engagement and academic achievement, such as social studies, service learning, career and technical education, art, music, physical education and health education.
  • Collaborate with educators and local communities to empower students with tools that enhance learning, such as parent engagement, physical and mental health improvement initiatives, and other support services in schools.

High school graduates who are well-prepared for college and jobs in the global economy

  • Emphasize the need for challenging and relevant coursework, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects, as well as global competence, international education, problem-solving, creativity, teamwork and communication.
  • Modernize and improve the quality of standards, assessment systems and data collection to accurately measure and improve the academic progress of each student toward college and career readiness.
  • Hold all schools and school districts accountable for the improvement of student achievement and reward those that are successful.
  • Support programs that provide students access to rigorous and advanced coursework, including in higher education settings.
  • Reduce high school dropout rates and re-engage students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out through programs that have proven to increase student attendance, academic counseling, credit recovery in a college and career ready course or study and ensure that all schools are safe learning environments for all students.

Outstanding educator is in the classroom of every student

·         Collaborate with educators to improve teacher and principal effectiveness through the development and implementation of an annual evaluation system that assesses educators’ performance based on multiple valid and reliable measures of student learning, which should include statewide and local assessments of student progress over time, as well as multiple measures of professional practice. The results of the evaluation system should provide clear feedback to teachers and principals on how to improve instruction.

  • Promote quality teacher and principal professional development differentiated based on individual need as identified through educator evaluations, and ongoing professional learning so educators continually improve their effectiveness.
  • Promote high quality teacher preparation programs that focus on induction and continual support using clinical methods that are tied to district needs, high standards for entry into the profession and other research-based elements, and are measured according to multiple indicators, including the success of graduates in the classroom.   
  • Reward and advance outstanding teachers who demonstrate success based on evaluation systems and take on greater responsibilities, as well as outstanding principals who improve teaching and learning conditions and overall school performance.
  • Support and develop the next generation of inspirational math and science teachers to make America’s students competitive in the STEM fields that are vital for a thriving workforce in the global economy.
  • Develop strategies and create incentives to ensure that all students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have equitable access to the most effective teachers, and provide additional resources to schools with significant populations of high-need students to recruit and retain effective educators. 
  • Work with teachers to build and maintain professional environments where they can work together to solve problems, improve their practice and have their voices heard through tools such as collective bargaining and collaboration. 

Innovative and creative approaches that improve student learning

  • Expand effective school programs that demonstrate positive outcomes, including effective and accountable charter schools, traditional public school options, magnet schools, blended online educational opportunities and inventive learning activities.
  • Maintain key formula grant funding school districts rely upon and support competitive grants to foster and reward innovative and creative local reform efforts to improve student achievement, such as Race to the Top, Early Learning Challenge fund, Promise Neighborhoods and Investing in Innovation (i3).
  • Encourage non-traditional, innovative partnerships to improve student achievement outcomes and leverage public dollars through responsible and transparent public-private partnerships, school-community partnerships, private-sector led research programs and partnerships with colleges.
  • Support evidence-based education research and methods of disseminating this research to discover innovative ways to support educators, improve classroom instruction, and increase student achievement.

The New Democrat Coalition Education Task Force is led by co-chairs Representative Susan Davis (CA-53) and Representative Jared Polis (CO-2).  The New Democrat Coalition is dedicated to maintaining America’s standing as the world’s strongest, most successful nation.  Founded in 1997, The New Dems believe firmly in the power of American ingenuity and innovation, and are focused on finding ways to foster and harness this creativity to grow our economy, create new American jobs, and ensure a safer and more secure future for our country.  For more information on the 42-member Coalition, visit the New Dems website at  


Click here to view a printable version of the Principles for ESEA Reauthorization.