Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of the Every Student Succeeds Act
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank him for his extraordinary leadership, as the new Ranking Member on the Education and Workforce Committee – bringing with him all of his commitment to education in our country, as well as his knowledge of the connection of young people to our justice system and how to provide opportunity for them in the safest possible way. Thank you, Mr. Scott, for your great leadership. We're all very, very proud of you. I know Mr. George Miller would be as well, your predecessor in this role.
“And I thank you, Chairman Kline, for your leadership as well, for enabling this bipartisan legislation to come to the Floor. I salute the Chairman and Ranking Member in the Senate as well. 50 years ago, our nation took a bold and historic step forward for educational opportunity, for the strength of our economy and for the health of our democracy, which is based on an informed electorate, enacting the ESEA.
“Today, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act stands as one of the landmark victories in both the struggle for civil rights and the war on poverty. At the bill's signing in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson, himself a former teacher, explained, ‘No law have I signed or will ever sign means more to the future of America.’ As President Johnson added, ‘Education is the only valid passport from poverty.’ And in addition to what it returns to the individual and enables that person to reach his or her aspirations, education brings much to our economy. In fact, nothing brings more to the treasury of our country than investments in education – from early-childhood education, K through 12 – which we are addressing today – higher education, post-secondary education, lifetime learning.
“Indeed, the ESEA's commitment to expanding education access, especially to our most vulnerable students, has proven essential to bridging the gap between poverty and possibilities for generations of Americans. Yet, for the first time in our nation's history, more than half of the students attending public school live in poverty. To close the opportunity gap, we must close the education gap that limits the future of so many children and communities.
“Today, we are thankful to be passing a bipartisan agreement that will strengthen the education of all of our children. It helps states improve low-performing schools and empowers teachers and administrators with better training and support. It targets funding to the most at-risk and needy students with enhanced Title 1 investments. It provides vital resources for English language learners and homeless youth. It amplifies voices of educators and parents. What we've always wanted – school is a place where children can learn, teachers can teach and parents can participate. It replaces high stakes testing and state and local with – let me repeat it. It replaces high stakes testing with state and local district flexibility. We are bolstering our commitment to strong STEM, arts, and early education for children in every zip code. In our area and other parts of the country, we call STEM, STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. All of that is reinforced in this legislation.
“With these improvements in the ESEA authorization before us, it's no wonder that this agreement is supported by a far-ranging coalition, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Round Table, the National Governors' Association, the Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights, AFT and NEA – two teachers unions – the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and many more.
“We all agree that education is a national security issue. President Eisenhower taught us that. It is also an economic issue. It is one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time. With this legislation, we can help ensure that access to high quality education is the right of every student. I urge my colleagues to join in passing this strong bipartisan re-authorization of the historic ESEA – the Every Student Succeeds Act.
“Once again, I thank the distinguished Chairman, Mr. Kline, and our Ranking Member, of whom we're very, very proud as well, Mr. Scott. With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.”