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My Position on the ESEA Reauthorization

February 1, 2015

I just sent the following email to Senator Lamar Alexander of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the most recent version of which is No Child Left Behind (NCLB):

Senator Alexander, why the rush? This ESEA reauth is following the same fast-track as Common Core, and that is a wreck that can only benefit education business.

NCLB was also a wreck– an unattainable, punitive international embarrassment.

Test-driven “reform” only begs to be exploited even as it bankrupts schools of both money and time. 

Are you trying to cement Common Core into ESEA? You should consider that the language “college and career ready” sounds good but that even the testing consortia, Smarter Balanced, cannot manage to operationalize the term without turning it back in on Common Core.

I wrote about it here:

There is too much of a federal hand intruding on state autonomy. For that reason, I ask that you sunset ESEA. When Johnson began ESEA in 1965, he tried to be careful that the federal government would not overburden states with federal requirements in assisting states with the burden of poverty on the American classroom. It looks like your 400 rushed pages will only burden states and erase state control over education as you write in that money follows the student.

Time to curb the federal role.

ESEA is 15 years off track and has been punishing American public education since it became NCLB.

ESEA is no longer helping us.

Please sunset ESEA and NCLB.  Instead, consider block grants without federal puppetry via federal rules that cripple state functioning.   

Thank you for your time.


–Mercedes Schneider

  Louisiana public school teacher, author, and        blogger


The deadline to submit your views to the Committee is February 2, 2015. You may write to the following email:


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

  1. Mercedes……thank you so much for sending an email to Sen. Alexander. Not sure any of our actions will do any good. A Blueprint For Reform of 2010 on the US Dept. of Ed website lays it all out and the time frame is “by 2015” This is why the rush. Obama wants to drive in the final nail. And Alexander is all too happy to comply like he has been doing since the late 1980’s. He wants people to think he is on our side when he has been pushing this agenda for years and this reauthorization is just the next step but it will be the end of parental control. The federal government will finally have our children, lock, stock and barrel.

  2. Well said! Thank you for all of your efforts to help bring real learning and joy back to the classroom.

  3. Bridget permalink

    I also sent in my letter. It’s a shame that teachers have the attitude that their letter won’t matter so they never write it. So yes, they are correct that the letter never sent won’t matter. In my experience, when enough people take the time to actually write in, that their voices are heard. It may not yield the results they hope for, but believe me, they do hear if enough of us take the time to give voice to our concerns. There is power in numbers. We must not give up our power by remaining silent and leaving it to others to fight for us. Thanks Mercedes, for keeping up the good fight and keeping us informed.

  4. SuAnna Funk permalink

    Any chance you can add a button to share on social media sites likes Facebook? You post some great stuff that I’d like to share….

    • I have to take time to set that up. I will try to do so in the not-too-distant future.

    • Jill Reifschneider permalink

      It is possible to copy the URL of Mercedes’ posts on your Facebook, and her post shows up. I share her wisdom on my Facebook all the time. I am about to post this beauty and encourage folks to send in there letters today if they have not yet. Thank you Mercedes!

  5. permalink

    Thank you. Sincerely appreciate your swift and public response. I’m spreading the word & trying to get action.

    I, and I think most, don’t understand the bill, “fast tracking”, “sunset” system. But, I’d think we can demand a public hearing and representation, right?

    How do “we the people” formally have Anita Hoges represent the parental voice?

    Can/should Charlotte Iserbyt testify somehow as well?

    Thank you again, Cheryl Hill


  6. I am ashamed our governor has backed away from the CC for craven political reasons. Most of what I have seen on this site partakes of the hysteria that is being stirred up by teacher unions and teachers who themselves haven’t the skills they will have to teach if the CC benchmarks are used. I have researched the curriculum, spent 40 years in teaching literature and composition first in a state university and later in a special program in a private school. Check out William Bennett, certainly a conservative and advocate for literacy. I never thought the implementation of high standards would be easy in Louisiana. Except for my advanced degrees, I’ve lived here all my life. But I am simply ashamed at the pandering to our citizens’ lowest impulses that is being used to kill the CC, which, after all, our governor helped create.

    • Harlan Underhill permalink

      It comes down to the cut scores. The CC can be made to jump any way a state superintendent wants. THEORETICALLY I agree with you that teachers will have to teach better and know more and with Bennett’s bottom line, that parents many not really know how ignorant their kids are. I don’t believe it will work because teachers are few and far between who CAN be upgraded, and we know from NCLB that the stick doesn’t work. Trumping ALL however, is that CC is a federal takeover of education. Is that what you want? Sometimes freedom is more important than a purported competence. Bennett lied on Fox news, as well, in saying they were state developed standards. I thought he was better than that.

    • Bobby Jindal did not create CC. No governor wrote it. It has been marketed as “what students should know and be able to do” to be “college and career ready,” yet it was a rush job in its creation and never properly operationalized, much less pilot tested. Even the testing consortia Smarter Balanced admits not knowing how to measure “college ready” outside of CC and has no clue how to gauge “career ready.” So, what we have here for sure is a politically loaded money maker for education businesses.

  7. Harlan Underhill permalink

    That’s the way to tell ’em. Will common sense (not common core) prevail.

  8. “Sunsetting” ESEA would eliminate the large bulk of all federal financial aid to elementary school districts and to state departments of education. Are you sure this is what you want to do, Mercedes?

    • I continue by suggesting that aid be converted into block grants. I am not asking that aid be eliminated, just the federal micromanagement of it.

      • OK. But that is done by amending ESEA not by sunsetting it. The Alexander amendments of ESEA essentially does what you want–except that it provides for “portability” rather than straight “block grants.” The fine print is difficult to follow, but that’s where the devils in the details are.

      • “Portability,” meaning the money follows the student? That is not what I want. I want the federal hand out of ueber-directing state affairs via high-stakes-testing puppetry, and I don’t see that happening.

        I am done with the federally mandated testing, Dick. And Alexander has offered no option to drop that.

    • estella permalink

      yup! cc is only spending money on itself. they could use our tax dollars to build afterschool community centers. Offer tutors , sports, music.

      Not test test test. horrible tests.

      • The Alexander proposal doesn’t mention CCSS. All of the failure of both NCLB and Race-to-the-Top, is conveniently swept under the rug. But the narrative that has held from the 1980’s still prevails: standards and standardized achievement tests, with sanctions for teachers and students who don’t meet arbitrarily-set cut-scores at grades 3-8 and at least once in high school. The only argument in the proposal is whether the tests at 3-8 be mandated annually, or at longer intervals.

        Ironically, interests such as civil rights activists and school groups who have been most injured by the narrative are calling for “more tests.”

  9. Carol Dufrene (concerned grandparent) permalink

    Anita Hoge gives a Rense radio interview, January 30th when she discovered the bill had been “fast tracked.” Charlotte Iserbyt joins her. She will give a second interview Wed. Jan. 4th. “This bill will federalize education.”

    [audio src="" /] (link to Jan. 4th interview)

    Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee, chaired by Lamar Alexander:

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