Citizens for Effective Schools


Views and Policy Recommendations

Experienced educators know, and research supports, that to maximize the chance of accomplishing NCLB's academic proficiency goal requires creating three conditions for virtually all students: challenging curriculum, effective teaching and family support for high achievement.  Experienced educators know the key steps that must be taken to create these conditions--including vastly enhancing teacher and administrator preparation and training and strengthening current teachers’ subject matter knowledge and pedagogical skills--and how to do it.

CES has described the necessary policy changes in "Why NCLB Needs To Be Restructured To Accomplish Its Goals and How To Do It" (PDF) (March 2007) and in its Open Letter to President Bush and Congress (PDF) (October 2003).  More recently, CES has updated these policy recommendations in “What’s Wrong with NCLB and What Should Replace It?” (PDF) and “Key Changes Required in ESEA/NCLB,” (PDF) (both August 2012) and in various talks and Huffington Post articles described in Campaign Features, below.

Advocacy Strategy

What has been lacking is a public recognition that the generally low academic achievement of poor and minority public school students is not accidental.  Instead, it largely results from intentional policies initiated in the early 20th century to create a two-track public education system: academic vs. general and vocational.  In this system, only students in the academic track were expected to become academically proficient.  At the same time, poor and minority students were disproportionately assigned to the lower, non-academic tracks. 

Thus, unequal expectations of students and teachers, unequal curriculum levels and unequal teaching quality have been built into the very structure of American education.  If we are now to achieve NCLB’s goal of raising virtually all children to academic proficiency, we must change the structure from a two-tier to a one-tier system nationwide.  States and districts must now offer all students, except the severely cognitively impaired, the same rigorous curriculum and high quality teaching that they previously provided only to the limited number of students in the academic track. To induce states and localities to make the necessary structural changes, the federal government needs to reframe NCLB and portions of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

The key to bringing about the needed transformations at the federal, state and local levels is direct and forceful advocacy. Through writing and public speaking in a wide variety of forums, CES works to educate politicians, the media and the public as to which structural changes must be made and which policies must be adopted to implement those changes.  Learn more about this advocacy in In the News.

Alliance with National Organizations

In early 2004, CES began working closely with an alliance of national education, civil rights, religious and other organizations to identify and agree on central principles for restructuring NCLB to accomplish its academic goals.  Those principles have been published in a Joint Organizational Statement that has already been endorsed by more than 150 national organizations. These include the National School Boards Association, NAACP, National Parent Teachers Association, NEA, National Council of Churches, National Urban League, ASPIRA, Council for Exceptional Children, and the Children's Defense Fund. Together, these organizations represent more than 50 million members and supporters around the country.  The Joint Statement calls on Congress to incorporate its principles into the ESEA reauthorization. 

A diverse working group of some of these endorsers, known as the Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA), has issued a detailed report identifying the policies needed to carry out the principles: "Redefining Accountability: Improving Student Learning by Building Capacity" (PDF) (February 2007) and legislative recommendations to implement the report, "Proposed ESEA/NCLB Amendments" (PDF) , (March 30, 2007). CES' Executive Director was a principal drafter of FEA's Redefining Accountability report and its legislative Amendments, as well as of the Joint Statement.

Vital Components of Advocacy Strategy

The most important components of CES’ advocacy strategy are described in Campaign Features.

2018 Citizens for Effective Schools