NEA Campaign Aims To Shift ESEA Away from 'Testing, Labeling and Punishing Schools'

A new multi-pronged campaign from the National Education Association will try to shift the focus of federal education policy away from high-stakes testing and back toward students, with a special emphasis on "children living in poverty, students with disabilities and English-language learners."

The campaign, called "Wave of Action," coincides with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 by Lyndon Johnson (reauthorized under George W. Bush as No Child Left Behind, or NCLB), which is currently undergoing another reauthorization process in Congress. The campaign will include a range of activities, from a television ad to digital campaigns to teach-ins to leaflet distribution, all with the aim of pushing legislators to tone down the current law's emphasis on testing and the associated problems that come with it.

"Under No Child Left Behind, the focus has shifted away from helping those most in need and moved towards testing, labeling and punishing schools, with no significant closure of achievement or opportunity gaps. Today, we call on all Americans to join us and take action, to speak up, to raise their hands, to reaffirm President Johnson's 'fierce commitment to the ideal of education for everyone,'" said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García in a statement released today.

The television ad, below, will run in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia., Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington state.

According to NEA, "During the April Wave of Action nationwide campaign, educators will reach out to parents, community partners, and the general public to raise their voices. They will leaflet parents at schools or in public places, attend community forums, host teach-ins, and write letters to the editor or opinion pieces in their local papers, among other proactive actions. In Oklahoma, educators are holding 'common sense testing' tours. Educators in St. Louis, MO, are conducting teach-ins. Maine educators are putting forward 'time to teach' resolutions before school boards. These actions are just the beginning of many more to come."

"We will continue to fight until we have a new federal education bill signed into law that focuses on students and includes the voices of educators," NEA's Eskelsen García continued. "The only way to achieve that is to make sure that our members and the public are fully engaged. The stakes are high for our students and their future. That's why we are springing into action again to make sure lawmakers hear directly from educators about what hasn't worked and what needs to happen in order to get the law right this time."

The Wave of Action campaign follows on the heels of another campaign, "Get ESEA Right," aimed at getting teachers and the public involved in ESEA reauthorization.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).