NEA's Legislative Action Center
Here you can point, click, and speak out for children and public education. You can join a national network of educators, get email alerts about issues that impact students and education employees, and learn of opportunities to lobby Congress on public education issues.
Legislative Action Center
Issue Briefs: Public Education at the National Level
ESEA (Elementary & Secondary Education Act, formerly nicknamed No Child Left Behind)
Our Association’s position on the reauthorization of ESEA is outlined in the NEA Positive Agenda for ESEA Reauthorization.
We expect Congress to continue its discussion on ESEA reauthorization during Fall 2010. Our Association has significant concerns about the Obama Administration’s blueprint for reauthorization, including major concerns about the President’s continued reliance on test scores as a means of categorizing schools and evaluating teachers and continued emphasis on the “turnaround” model of improving schools.
ESEA is a 1965 law that Congress has reauthorized several times. In 2002, under the Bush Administration, Congress made sweeping changes in the law that became known as “No Child Left Behind.” To a large degree, under the current ESEA, states are permitted to design their own implementation plans as long as they incorporate all of Congress’s many rules. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education are responsible for Colorado’s implementation plan which must be approved by the U.S. Department of Education. The current law addresses teacher and paraprofessional quality, student assessment and student academic progress measured by “Adequate Yearly Progress,” and the consequences for schools that do not improve under NCLB’s specific timelines.
The current ESEA required that all teachers who teach core academic subjects (all subjects except physical education, computer science, and vocational courses), including those who came to teaching through alternative licensing, be "Highly Qualified" in the subjects they teach by the end of the 2005-06 school year. To meet the Highly Qualified definition, teachers must be fully licensed by the state and not have had any permanent waivers of licensing requirements. Teachers at all levels (elementary, middle, and high school) must have at least a Bachelor's degree and meet the requirements for new teachers OR demonstrate their competency in all subjects they teach.
Social Security Offsets (GPO and WEP)
Association members in Colorado, along with members in 11 other states, are the only public school employees in the nation who do not pay into Social Security, but rely on their state pension plan (PERA). However, CEA members may have Social Security benefits from other employment or from their spouses and may be affected by GPO (Government Pension Offset) and WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision). That's why these two Social Security offsets matter to us in Colorado – and why we support efforts in Congress to repeal both GPO and WEP.
Because GPO and WEB are not widely known or understood, the pension reductions they mandate may come as a surprise when affected individuals apply for the benefits they anticipated in their retirement planning. The Government Pension Offset (GPO) reduces an individual's Social Security survivor benefits, available to a person whose deceased spouse had earned Social Security benefits, by an amount equal to two-thirds of his or her public pension. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) changes the formula used to figure benefit amounts, reducing an individual's own Social Security benefits earned while working in a job covered by Social Security.
Colorado U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, Jared Polis, John Salazar, and Betsy Markey support the current Association-backed legislation. Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Mike Coffman, and Doug Lamborn do not. Colorado's U.S. Senators, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, have not indicated that they intend to vote for the repeal of GPO and WEP.
Our Association also opposes mandatory Social Security coverage and opposes the privatization of Social Security.
Learn more about our Association’s efforts to overturn the Social Security Offsets GPO and WEP.
Other National Education Policy Issues
Association information on other national issues affecting public education may be found here.
NEA’s Federal Education Policy Guide
NEA’s Report Card on Members of Congress NEA Report Card on Members of Congress