On December 21 and 22, the U.S. Department of Education held webinars on the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the law that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Click here to access slides from the webinars, which included some timelines and initial information about the transition from the framework of the No Child Left Behind Act to the new framework of ESSA.
I recommend that you review the Department’s slides to support and enhance your program’s partnerships by giving you a sense of what your state education leaders and PK-12 partners will be experiencing over the coming months and year(s). In particular, consider the implications of ending the waivers (referred to in the webinar as ESEA flexibility or ESEA waivers) as of August 1 of this year.
On December 10, after many painful years of wrestling with the heavy-handed No Child Left Behind Act and state waivers that were often more prescriptive than the law itself, educators finally got a new federal law governing PK-12 education. Its replacement, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), promises to return power to the states, reduce accountability burdens, and broaden the scope of support for students with the greatest needs. I join my fellow educators around the country in celebrating these improvements.
Nonetheless, there are lemons lurking among the plums in the new ESSA. This law contains more concessions to reformist entrepreneurs and venture philanthropists than many of us would like. For example, one provision in Title II allows states to create charter-like “academies” for preparing teachers and principals for high-need schools—an idea that has been debated for several years and widely opposed by education organizations. Now that it is part of the law, however, we will do well to heed Maya Angelou’s advice: if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. So let’s celebrate the plums and then get busy making lemonade.
On December 18, the U.S. Department of Education published a notice in the Federal Register announcing its consideration of conducting negotiated rule making for the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The secretary invites advice and recommendations on standards and assessments as well as on the requirement that Title I, Part A funds “supplement, not supplant” state and local funds. The Department seeks feedback from stakeholders on other areas of Title I that could benefit from either guidance or regulation as the nation moves from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to ESSA.
The Department also sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to states addressing pending transitions, including from current NCLB waivers to the new law. In the letter, the Department notes that it will not renew waivers or accept waiver applications from states that do not already have one.
On Friday, December 18, Congress completed its work of funding the federal government through September 30, 2016, through passage of an omnibus spending bill connected to a tax-extenders deal.
AACTE is pleased that the Teacher Quality Partnerships not only survived an attack during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but also received a nearly $3 million funding increase though the omnibus bill for Fiscal Year 2016.
On December 10, President Obama signed into law the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—now titled the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The long-overdue reauthorization is being heralded as the end of the heavy-handed No Child Left Behind era, returning much of the authority to states and local agencies to oversee PK-12 education. But like any law of such great scope, this one has plenty of contentious content, and education organizations are offering decidedly mixed reviews.
In its statement on the passage of ESSA, the Coalition for Teaching Quality (of which AACTE is a founding member) said, “While the Coalition appreciates ESSA’s efforts to strengthen the capacity of states and districts to improve teacher quality, the bill unfortunately reflects a significant step back for many of our nation’s neediest students by eliminating a meaningful minimum entry standard for teachers and the need for states and districts to correct ongoing inequities in access to high-quality teachers.”
December is always an interesting time, as people’s thoughts turn to wrapping presents, lighting candles, or marking the shortest day of the year.
In Washington, December also means wrapping up spending bills or meeting hard-and-fast deadlines, making room for extra time as needed. This process typically interjects wrangling, rancor, negotiation, and deal-cutting into the holiday hubbub.
Today, the Conference Report for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was released, manifesting a compromise recently struck between members of the education committees of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The bill, now known as the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” is expected to be voted on by the House this week, followed by the Senate next week. Should both bodies pass this measure, it will be sent to President Obama for his signature.
Of particular interest for AACTE members is Title II: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, or other School Leaders, which spans about 100 of the 1,061-page bill (pp. 298-408). One change is to the formula grants to states, which would phase in the following allotment: 80% based on the population of students in poverty in the state and 20% based on the overall student population.
On Thursday, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization process advanced a step as members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce and the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions reached agreement on a conference report. This report represents a compromise between the House-passed Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and the Senate-passed Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177).
The fall is ushering in more than a change in the weather in Washington this year. Multiple unpredicted changes in leadership have D.C. buzzing about what it all means.
- U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) resigned from Congress as of October 30, 2015.
- U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan resigned as of December 2015.
- Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Rep. John Kline (R-MN) will not seek re-election next year.
On July 16, the U.S. Senate passed S. 117, the Every Child Achieves Act, to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The bill passed by a vote of 81-17, with three Democrats and 14 Republicans voting against the measure.
While 178 amendments were filed, including Senator Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) GREAT Act, Senator Bennet did not offer the GREAT Act amendment to be considered by the full Senate. In total, 66 amendments passed and will be incorporated into the final version of the Senate bill.