On Wednesday, the Senate passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, an education overhaul that gives more control to the states but leave Republicans wishing it had accomplished more. The legislation passed with a vote of 81-12 just a few days after the House had passed the same bill 359-64. We expect a presidential signature soon.
Reform of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has been long overdue. The act was originally passed in 2002 with ambitious goals. But the restrictions put on schools led to watered down progress reports and exams as well as lessons that taught exact test answer in order to produce “better results.”
Education policy throughout Obama’s reign has suffered as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his team have meddled in nearly every aspect of our country’s education. The NCLB Act encouraged Duncan to design ways for schools to avoid consequences – an unconstitutional way of creating education policy throughout America.
Yesterday, Congress passed a major bipartisan reform of the ruined No Child Left Behind Act. The legislation goes by the name “Every Student Succeeds” (ESSA) and is a huge improvement. Annual testing remains in place, but responsibility for dealing with low-performing schools has been handed over to the states. Our policy-by-waiver days are over.
“Fed ctrl rarely goes in reverse but it just did,” tweeted Rick Hess. Nonetheless, the ESSA does have problems that should not be overlooked. Although several programs have been consolidated, the amount of federal spending on education is slated to grow in the future. Funding for training reachers remais in the legislation, despite little evience that these programs actually produce good teachers. The ESSA also introduces several small programs including a preschool program that falls under the Department of Health and Human Services.
Another questionable part of the new legislation is the creation of a direct line of authority between the feds and local education agencies. This bypasses the states in a move that some are calling constitutionally dubious. The ESSA does not reflect a reduced federal role in education. However, when evaluated in terms of benefits and costs, the ESSA is an improvement over its predecessor and a step in the right direction.