Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement regarding the introduction of a bill by Senator Tom Harkin, D. Iowa, and chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA):
“We welcome today’s introduction of Sen. Harkin’s bill to reauthorize and strengthen the ESEA. Our children deserve significant federal support and encouragement for their educational opportunities. It’s long past time that Congress approved a bill to do just that.
Chairman Harkin’s bill is a serious attempt to achieve what many of us in the civil and human rights community have long held to be true—that access to a quality education for every single child in America is not only a moral imperative and basic human right, but also a fundamental obligation of the federal government and a critical foundation of an engaged citizenry and a competitive workforce. The bill seeks to make the American dream a reality for all children by focusing on closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, and improving school climate.
In the 12 years since the ESEA was last reauthorized, millions of children – especially students of color, students from low-income families, students with disabilities, and English learner students – have received inadequate educations that have not prepared them for our 21st century economy. It is time for that to end. The best investment we can make is an investment in our children.
We look forward to working with Chairman Harkin and Congress to finally pass a bill that will help to ensure a high quality education for each and every child in America.”
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org .