Brown, Reed Introduce CORE Act to Help Improve Public Schools

Legislation Aims to Bridge the Student Achievement Gap, Expand Access to Resources for Learning

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – In a continued effort to address inequities that undermine learning and to help students bridge the achievement gap, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced the Core Opportunity Resources for Equity and Excellence (CORE) Act.  The bill aims to tackle existing disparities in public education by establishing accountability requirements that compel states and school districts to give all students equitable access to the core resources necessary to achieve college and career readiness by high school graduation.

“The quality of our children’s education shouldn’t be determined by their zip code,” Brown said. “But too many teachers and schools lack the resources to ensure students can grow and succeed. That’s why this bill is so important – not just to close the achievement gap but also to raise the bar for all of America’s students. The CORE Act would ensuring every child receives the opportunities they deserve by improving access to prepared teachers, better curricula, and ultimately, the chance students need to grow and succeed.” 

“Congress must do more to ensure that all children – regardless of where they live – have access to high quality and well-equipped public schools,” said Reed. “This is a priority for our children as well as our economy.  Every child who comes through those school doors deserves a chance to succeed.  That chance doesn’t truly exist if there isn’t fair and equitable access to the resources necessary for college and career readiness.  We need to hold ourselves accountable for ensuring that public schools bridge opportunity gaps, not widen them.”

In March 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights published data from a comprehensive survey of schools across the nation, which illustrated the magnitude of the educational opportunity gaps that exist for students in the United States.  The survey found that Black, Latino, American Indian, and Native Alaskan students, as well as students who are English learners, attend schools with higher concentrations of inexperienced teachers.  The survey also found that nationwide, one in five high schools lack a school counselor, and between 10 and 25 percent of high schools do not offer more than one of the core courses in high school math and science, such as Algebra I and II, geometry, biology, and chemistry.

“This bill is about ensuring that all children have a quality education, with top-notch instruction and support, and that our teachers have the resources and flexibility they need to help students excel.  Achieving all of this is not easy, but working together with states and school districts, we must address disparities and do right by future generations,” continued Reed.

The CORE Act has been supported by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; the American Federation of Teachers; the American Library Association; the National Education Association; Opportunity Action; the First Focus Campaign for Children; the League of United Latin American Citizens; and the Coalition for Community Schools, among others.

The bill will establish accountability standards for states and school districts, requiring that they provide fair and equitable access to the core resources for learning.  These resources include:

  • High quality instructional teams, including licensed and profession-ready teachers, principals, school librarians, counselors, and education support staff;
  • Rigorous academic standards and curricula that lead to college and career readiness by high school graduation, and are accessible to all students, including students with disabilities and English learners;
  • Equitable and instructionally appropriate class sizes;
  • Up-to-date instructional materials, technology, and supplies;
  • Effective school library programs;
  • School facilities and technology, including physically and environmentally sound buildings and well-equipped instruction spaces;
  • Specialized instructional support teams, such as counselors, social workers, nurses, and other qualified professionals; and
  • Effective family and community engagement programs.

Under the CORE Act, state accountability systems would be required to include measures of fair and equitable access to the core resources for learning, as well as a plan for identifying and addressing any inequities in access to them.  Information about access to these resources would also be reflected on state and district report cards.  States that fail to make progress in eliminating disparities for two or more consecutive years would be ineligible to participate in competitive grant programs authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  For school districts identified for improvement, the state would have to identify gaps in access to the core resources for learning and develop an action plan in partnership with the local school district to address those gaps.

Reed and Brown previously introduced the CORE Act in June 2014 during the 113th Congress. A companion to the legislation will once again be introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH).

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