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House Passes Quigley Amendment to Provide Support for Teachers

Feb 27, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Mike Quigley’s (D-IL) amendment to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by a vote of 218-201.  Yesterday, he spoke out against the GOP's plan to gut ESEA and offered his amendment that would provide teachers and students proper classroom support. Rep. Quigley’s bipartisan amendment, introduced along with Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), will maintain certification requirements for educational staff, also called paraprofessionals. Additional amendments and the final passage of ESEA are expected to be voted on today.  

“Congress has been given the chance to pass an education bill that would invest in education. Instead, Republicans offered a plan that takes from poor kids and gives to rich schools. Our teachers and students deserve better. We need an education policy that combats poverty by providing equitable resources for our community schools and provides support for our teachers and students. We need an ESEA that returns to the roots of its intent – to provide equal opportunity for all children,” said Rep. Quigley. “My amendment reverses a serious problem in the Republican’s plan by keeping certification requirements in place for educational staff. Classrooms are already severely overcrowded and paraprofessionals provide teachers with the critical support they need to best educate our children.”

“We commend Rep. Mike Quigley for his amendment to maintain paraprofessional qualification requirements in the ESEA reauthorization bill,” said Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers. “School paraprofessionals play a vital role in a child’s education as part of the classroom team with teachers, and we must do everything we can to ensure they are fully prepared to do that important work. Congress needs to retain, not eliminate, the current law’s standards for employment and training of paraprofessionals. We need to ensure that districts are required to hire qualified paraprofessionals to provide the necessary supports to help children succeed.”

“Congressman Quigley understands that to support our students, we must support those who work hard to educate them, and we appreciate his leadership. Whether it’s providing much-needed instructional support for students with special needs or helping teachers manage large class sizes, paraprofessionals are a critical part of school teams,” said Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “No Child Left Behind got a lot of things very wrong, but giving our schools the highly qualified paraprofessionals our students deserve was something it got right, and we must restore these requirements to support our teachers, paraprofessionals, and students.”

The broad range of groups supporting Rep. Quigley’s amendment include American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, Easter Seals, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Council for Exceptional Children, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Council for Learning Disabilities, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, AFSCME.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act – also known as No Child Left Behind – was last reauthorized in 2001. The Obama Administration has called for a bipartisan overhaul which ensures all students are prepared for college, careers and life. The Administration has threatened to veto the Republican House proposal if it comes to the president’s desk, which abandons the fundamental principles of equity and accountability in our education system. At its core, ESEA is a civil rights law, meant to ensure all children—regardless of their background, ZIP code, disability or family’s income—have equal access to a well-rounded, world-class education. The Republican plan for ESEA removes provisions in the law that help states, districts and schools meet that goal. 

Since his election to Congress in 2009, Rep. Quigley has made affordable education one of his top issues. Rep. Quigley invited a public school teacher to the State of the Union address this year, highlighting the importance of education in the state of our nation and the economic opportunities access to quality education creates. As the only Illinois member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Quigley successfully advocated to increase the maximum award available for Pell Grants recipients to $5,830 in this year’s omnibus appropriations bill. In 2012, Rep. Quigley held a congressional field forum with Senator Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky to explore the impact of the growing student loan debt on families and the economy. Rep. Quigley has also been actively working to protect the education benefits of service members and veterans, introducing the Military and Veterans Education Protection Act in 2012. This legislation aimed to close a loophole that encourages for-profit colleges to target active duty military and veterans using military education assistance programs.