PAA endorses the Student Bill of Rights

The education “reformers” have been trying their darndest to get the nation to ignore the real crisis in American education: resource inequality.

Thanks to Representative Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, we have an opportunity to get school reform back on track and do the one thing that will make a real difference, especially for the most at-risk children.

Rep. Fattah has re-introduced a bill that he originally filed back in 2002. The Student Bill of Rights is a powerful statement of what we adults owe our children, and what we must demand from our lawmakers and officials.

It’s the accountability bill that the “standards and accountability” folks don’t want to see passed.

The Student Bill of Rights puts it this way:

The standards and accountability movement will succeed only if, in addition to standards and accountability, all schools have access to the educational resources necessary to enable students to achieve. Raising standards without ensuring adequate and equitable access to educational resources may, in fact, exacerbate achievement gaps and set children up for failure. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2001-2002, the United States ranks last among developed countries in the difference in the quality of schools available to rich and poor children.

What is the Student Bill of Rights?

The Student Bill of Rights Act, or HR 1295, would hold states accountable for providing access to the following educational opportunities: (1) highly effective teachers; (2) early childhood education; (3) college preparatory curricula; and (4) equitable instructional resources.

The law would require comparable or better levels of access to these opportunity to learn (OTL) indicators in districts and schools which receive federal Title 1 funds as in schools and districts which do not receive those funds (because they are wealthier).

States would consult with local district personnel, teachers, principals, other staff, and parents to determine state standards of access to these educational opportunities. States would then be held accountable for schools and districts meeting these OTL standards.

The law includes remediation processes and consequences for failure to meet the OTL standards.

While some might argue with the list of OTL indicators (versions from past years’ bills were stronger and more specific, identifying such resources as smaller class size and up-to-date textbooks and computers), the Student Bill of Rights is unique and important because it directly addresses a critical root cause of low achievement, the unfair distribution of educational resources in this country. It’s a start down the real road to high-quality schools for all of our children.

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Uncategorized

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