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Rep. Chu Sees Opportunity and Disappointment in ESEA Reauthorization

December 3, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The ESSA includes requirements for college or career aligned standards, maintains annual statewide assessments, and mandates that states identify schools where subgroups - like English language learners, minorities, low income students, and students with disabilities - are struggling. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) voted for the ESSA, but expressed some reservations about the lack of mandated improvements for failing schools or specific requirements for tracking the progress of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students. Rep. Chu released the following statement:

“Thanks to the support of every single Democrat, we were able to once again demonstrate how, when working together in a bipartisan way, we can reach real solutions to national problems. I am pleased that we have improved the ability for schools that are failing subgroups of students to receive the resources and supports they need, and that we have maintained the commitment to graduating students who are ready for college or a career. But in many other ways, this reform falls short.

“The ESEA, first signed by President Johnson in 1965, is at its core a civil rights bill meant to ensure that all students have access to the quality education they deserve. Yet this reauthorization fails to live up to that goal in a number of ways. While the ESSA does require increased reporting from schools where students are consistently struggling, it fails to turn that reporting into action by requiring reforms from the states. It is not enough to identify gaps. We must close them. Additionally, while states currently have more say in monitoring and enforcing protections for vulnerable students, we know from history that they are imperfect and inconsistent in enforcing those protections. Once again, just monitoring is not enough.

“In addition, As the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), I have worked to combat the so-called ‘model minority myth,’ which leads people to believe that AAPI students are all high-achieving and successful. In reality, the AAPI community includes over 48 distinct ethnic groups that speak over 100 languages.  However, when AAPI data is not disaggregated by ethnic subgroups, this diversity in experience and success is often masked. As a result, many AAPI students fail to receive resources that would help them succeed academically. That is why I worked to require that disaggregated data collected on AAPI students be publicly reported, and I am disappointed that it was not included in this bill.

“If we want all of our students to rise to the level of their potential, we must do more to ensure we are reaching them. It is clear that while this bill is a step forward, it is not enough. As a former educator, I have seen firsthand how a quality education can make all the difference in a student’s life. I will continue to work to ensure that every child, regardless of socio-economic background, race, gender, sexual orientation, family history, or ability, receives a free, high-quality education that enables them to achieve the American Dream.”