December 11, 2015
Dear Friends and Partners of OU Advocacy,
I was honored to represent the Orthodox Union and the Jewish community at the White House yesterday as President Obama signed the “Every Student Succeeds Act” into law.
Yesterday’s signing ceremony marked the culmination of several years of advocacy work including a June 2012 meeting between the Orthodox Union and President Obama. Among the policy issues we discussed with the President and his Chief of Staff were proposals for expanding federal aid in support of Jewish education.
Since then, the Orthodox Union has worked with our allies in Congress to ensure that any legislation to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) would include provisions giving non-public schools equal access to the services (including teacher training, learning centers, and speech and occupational therapy) they so need–and rightfully deserve. Over the years, we heard from many of our Jewish day school and yeshiva leaders that our schools lost tens of millions of dollars in services because these safeguards were not in place.
Because this issue was so critical for our community, reforming and improving the ESEA has been at the top of our legislative priorities for years.
As a result of our advocacy effort, funds meant for private school students will be allocated to private schools before local education agencies can spend these funds on other discretionary programs. This new “proportional funding” measure, which the OU drafted, is a huge step toward fairness in federal education funding, and is included in the final version of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” that became law yesterday.
On its road to the White House, the “Every Student Succeeds Act” was approved with overwhelming support from both parties in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. I believe that this bipartisan support for the legislation reflects not only the long-overdue need to reform the ESEA but also the clear benefits for every child throughout the country that the legislation will provide.
As President Obama remarked yesterday during the signing ceremony, the “Every Student Succeeds Act” upholds the core values of the original ESEA and “reaffirms that every child, regardless of race, income, background or zip code, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will.”
This year, working together with state and federal legislators, our advocacy efforts helped bring more than $209 million in government funding to Jewish day schools and synagogues across the country. Today’s success is another important step on behalf of our schools, Jewish education, and Jewish families.
If you have questions about how the “Every Student Succeeds Act” will impact your community or school, please contact Miriam Harmer, Director of Congressional Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to thank our school and community leaders who worked with OU Advocacy and helped make this bill a reality. You joined us in Washington, you spoke to your legislators and you helped us give voice to the needs of the Jewish community. I also want to recognize and thank the OU Advocacy staff who worked tirelessly on this effort.