Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, through its Institute for Public Affairs, applauded Congress’ final passage of a landmark reauthorization of federal education funding legislation. The Senate approved the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act today, following on earlier approval by the House of Representatives. The “ESEA” is the principle blueprint for the federal government’s role in American education policy and the approved legislation is designed to implement President Bush’s “Leave No Child Behind” education initiative.
The consensus package will implement many critical education reform policies, including:
Increasing the accountability of schools and their administrators for educating America’s children while giving local education officials greater flexibility and control over how to allocate federal education funds they administer;
Empowering parents of children in failing schools to choose another public or charter school for their child and to receive federal funds to obtain tutoring or other supplemental services from private, including faith-based, service providers;
Promoting teacher quality and training programs;
Expanding the ability of parochial and private schools to “equitably participate” in federally funded supplemental educational services programs (including teacher training, technology support, special education, etc.) and strengthening the requirements for public education authorities to consult with non-public schools regarding these programs in a timely and meaningful way;
Denying federal education funds to any school district that denies students the right to engage in constitutionally protected prayer.
Union Institute director Nathan Diament, stated: “the Orthodox Jewish community welcomes this landmark legislative achievement that will begin a new era in federal education policy. This blueprint ensures that the benchmarks we set for our children will be results-oriented and that it will be parents who determine whether those results have achieved. There is much more to do to bring true educational opportunity, equality and liberty to all American parents and children, but this ESEA reauthorization is an excellent beginning. The UOJCA was privileged to work with House and Senate members of both parties as well as Administration officials in developing several aspects of this legislation. We especially appreciate the cooperation we enjoyed in working with the offices of House Education Committee Chairman Boehner, Senators Judd Gregg, Tim Hutchinson, Joe Lieberman as well as the White House’s Sandy Kress and Nina Rees. We congratulate them and all those who worked tirelessly on this bill, on this landmark legislative achievement.”