On behalf of the 3 million members of the National Education Association, I congratulate the members of the 115th Congress. With the election behind us, now is the time for Congress to put students and families ahead of partisan politics in order to get the work done on behalf of the American people.
This is important because we believe all children, regardless of family circumstances or ZIP code, have the right to a public education that helps them reach their full potential and does not depend on living in advantaged circumstances, getting accepted by a private school or winning a charter school lottery. Our doors are open to all. Every student deserves the best our country can offer.
[pullquote]We also challenge Congress to take a bold stand against efforts by ideologues, corporations, billionaires and hedge fund managers to undermine and privatize public education and harm our students.[/pullquote]
Congress can start that process by renewing its commitment to the American vision of public education—one which welcomes and includes students of all backgrounds, identities, origins and abilities. We offer this keeping in mind the bipartisanship our nation saw during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which produced the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In passing ESSA, Congress acted with the best interests of all students in mind—and now it should allow states and local communities the room to effectively implement it and avoid slashing or diverting the resources that help make that possible.
We also challenge Congress to take a bold stand against efforts by ideologues, corporations, billionaires and hedge fund managers to undermine and privatize public education and harm our students. Lawmakers have to resist the temptation to substitute the will of special interests for the experience and expertise of educators, the ones who know the names and faces of the students across the country.
We urge Congress—Democrats, Republicans, Independents—to value and support this vision for a strong and inclusive public education system that ensures that all students can succeed. We look forward to working with all lawmakers who are willing to renew their commitment to public education, who will fulfill the promise of ESSA, and who will stand up for students and working families.
Lily Eskelsen García is President of the National Education Association.