House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.



Committee Statement

March 18, 2010

CONTACT: Alexa Marrero
(202) 225-4527

Castle Statement: Hearing on “Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization: Addressing the Needs of Diverse Students”

Good morning. Chairman Kildee, thank you for holding today's hearing - the fourth in the current series as the Committee begins the process of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I would also like to thank all of today's witnesses for being here to testify. I believe it is imperative that we examine all issues thoroughly, particularly through the hearing process.

We began this process last Congress, and I am glad that today we are taking another look at our Nation's diverse student populations which includes students with disabilities, English Language Learners (ELLs), students in rural areas, Native American students, homeless students, and minority and ethnic students.

Addressing the needs of these students was the driving force behind the most recent overhaul of federal K-12 education policy, which Congress passed in 2001. Prior to that time, states and school districts were not required to report the academic achievement of these subgroups and many schools were masking the lagging performance of these students with the test scores of their more affluent, higher performing students.

In 2001, we put these students front and center -- and states and school districts all across the country have responded with innovative programs and practices to ensure that all students now have the opportunity to succeed academically.  But it hasn’t been easy. 

This new focus on diverse learners has presented significant challenges to states, school districts, and schools, who have struggled to make changes in teacher professional development, curriculum, and instructional strategies to ensure diverse student populations have every opportunity to meet high academic standards.  And that’s why we’re here today.  We owe it to these students to ensure that they receive the same high-quality education as their peers.  But we also owe it to states and local areas to give them the tools necessary to educate students with a wide range of needs.

Current law was crafted under the guiding principles that all students can and deserve to learn - diverse student populations being no exception. As we begin rewriting ESEA this year, we cannot lose sight of this.

I believe that our witnesses today will provide us with valuable information about the importance of, and the challenges that states and school districts face in educating diverse student learners. I hope to hear how educators at the state and local levels are working to ensure that special populations are receiving high-quality instruction that can lead to high academic achievement. I also want to hear where there have been problems and challenges in the implementation of current law from the state, school district, and school level.  Finally, I look forward to suggestions about how to reform ESEA to ensure that it accounts for the complexities that states, school districts, and schools must address in educating diverse learners, especially how we ensure that they are properly assessed so that teachers and school administrators can develop appropriate strategies.

I hope that today's hearing will help us understand these issues better, which are some of the most difficult and important ones in current law and issues that must be considered carefully as we craft education reform policy this year.
Thank you for joining us this Thursday morning. I look forward to your testimony. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

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