Secretary Duncan Lays Out Priorities for No Child Left Behind Reauthorization

Yesterday, at an elementary school in Washington, D.C., Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered a speech to lay out the administration’s position on Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as attention to (and debate over) the bill’s reauthorization gains rapid momentum in Congress.

ESEA has not been reauthorized since No Child Left Behind in 2001. Duncan called NCLB “tired” and “prescriptive.” At the same time he urged retaining annual, mandated statewide tests from the third through eighth grade and a minimum of one test in high school. Republicans in Congress, including the new Senate chairman of the Health, Education and Pensions Committee Lamar Alexander, have hinted at repealing some or even all mandates on statewide testing.

Secretary Duncan also called for $2.7 billion in increased education spending, which is included in President Obama’s FY 2016 budget request; expanded access to preschool; and a more equitable distribution of funding among high schools in low-income areas. (A 2014 report indicated that in 19 states, high-poverty districts receive less state and local funding than low-poverty districts.)

Senator Alexander has indicated that ESEA reauthorization is the Senate Education Committee’s top priority in the new Congress. The Senator may introduce his own proposal for ESEA reauthorization before a Committee hearing on ESEA slated for January 20th.

For more on Secretary Duncan’s speech, click here.

Shannon Kelly, Director of Advocacy, January 13, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (