WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, along with U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) released the following joint statement in support of the U.S. Department of Education’s new rule on accountability standards under the Every Student Succeeds Act

“Education is a civil rights issue. Every single child – no matter the child’s race or geography – deserves a first rate education,” said Murphy, Warren, Booker and Coons. “We are encouraged by the Department of Education’s proposed accountability rules. We are hopeful that today's proposed rules will ensure that states identify and provide additional support and resources to schools with low graduation rates and significant achievement gaps, while providing greater transparency for parents.”

The Senators continued, “We all fought hard to include strong protections for vulnerable students in Every Student Succeeds Act, and we believe the Department of Education has the legal authority and moral obligation to move forward with strong rules to meaningfully protect the basic right for every child to receive a high quality education.  It is important that states have flexibility to design accountability systems and improvement plans with educators and parents. As we continue to review the proposed rule, we look forward to working with the Department of Education, state leaders, teachers, and other stakeholders  to ensure the final rule prevents states from ignoring the needs of vulnerable groups of students and secures a great public education for all students.”

The proposed rule announced today covers provisions included in the Every Student Succeeds Act on data reporting and state accountability plans.       

Last year, the senators introduced an amendment to the Every Student Succeeds Act to require states to identify and support schools that fail their most vulnerable students. In an effort to close the achievement gap, the senators’ amendment would ensure that local schools with low graduation rates, low-performing subgroups, or well-below average achievement are identified, made eligible for funding, and receive additional support through accountability and improvement systems set up by the states. Similar language was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act that passed Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015.

The amendment was supported by various civil rights groups and officials, including: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, National Urban League, Southern Poverty Law Center, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Third Way, Education Trust, Teach for America, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Democrats for Education Reform, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Center for American Progress, Children's Defense Fund, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, U.S. Department of Education, the White House, Connecticut Association of Schools, Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, Connecticut Business and Industry Association, Connecticut Council for Education Reform, Connecticut School Boards Association, and Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now.