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McKeon Lauds Education Reform Leaders, Repeats Calls for Teacher Quality & Parental Empowerment in Education
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, today commended mayors and school leaders who gathered in Washington to testify before the committee about their education reform initiatives. Mayors, superintendents, and school chancellors from key districts around the country spoke strongly in favor of education reform, including the importance of systems that promote and reward high-quality teachers and the need for student-centered policies.
“Education reform is one of the most difficult challenges facing our nation’s mayors and local leaders. But it is also one of the most important,” said McKeon. “What these school leaders have in common is their steadfast commitment to casting aside the status quo in favor of reforms that put students ahead of the system.”
Testifying before the committee were: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; New York City Public Schools Chancellor Joel Klein; Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty; D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee; Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan; and Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall.
One common theme among the school leaders who testified is their belief that high-quality teachers are essential to improving student academic achievement. The requirement that all children be taught by highly-qualified teachers was a key element of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and has been a top priority for Republicans in recent years, who have championed innovative strategies to enhance teacher quality, including support for performance pay initiatives.
“To further these gains and decrease the achievement gap, we must continue to increase the level of accountability for everyone in the system, including teachers,” said Rhee. “We must be able to significantly reward teachers who are successful and to exit those who, even with the right supports, are unable to increase their students’ academic growth.”
“I believe we should be treating teachers like the professionals they are. And that means not only paying them as professionals, but also holding them accountable as professionals,” said Bloomberg. “That would go a long way toward ensuring we have top-quality teachers in high-needs schools – the single most important factor in closing the achievement gap. But to do it, we need federal leadership – and let me suggest one promising idea: Congress can use the power of the purse to withhold funds from districts that fail to take meaningful steps towards reform.”
McKeon applauded the student academic achievement gains that have been produced in the witnesses’ schools, and he argued that key education reform principles must be embraced around the nation in order to ensure all children are given the high quality education they deserve.
“There are many ingredients necessary to successful education reform, and I believe most of them are rooted in the notion of parental empowerment and a ‘students first’ mentality,” said McKeon. “Initiatives from tuition tax credits to funding portability and from teacher performance pay to strong accountability systems should all be part of our national dialogue on education reform.”
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