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DeVos Reiterates Intentions to Implement ESSA As 'Congress Intended' in New Letter

DeVos Reiterates Intentions to Implement ESSA As 'Congress Intended' in New Letter

In Betsy DeVos' first letter as secretary of education, she addressed chief state school officers around the country who might be wondering if the change in power will affect when state plans that adhere to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are due.

Though the Department of Education announced that it would be delaying several ESSA regulations to be reviewed and changed by March 21, Betsy DeVos reassured state officials that state ESSA plans will still be accepted by the Department on either April 3 or September 18, 2017.

The Department will, however, be reviewing exactly what is required of these consolidated state plans.

"Due to the regulatory delay and review, and the potential repeal of recent regulations by Congress, the Department is currently reviewing the regulatory requirements of consolidated State plans, as reflected in the current template, to ensure that they require only descriptions, information, assurances, and other materials that are 'absolutely necessary' for consideration of a consolidated State plan," DeVos wrote.

This revised template will be released to states "once it becomes available."

In the letter, DeVos encourages states to continue developing strong state plans to transition to ESSA despite recent changes.

"The regulatory delay and review, and the potential repeal of recent regulations by Congress, should not adversely affect or delay the progress that States have already made in developing their State plans and transitioning to the ESSA," the letter says.

DeVos reiterated her intentions of ensuring that ESSA is implemented as Congress intended and that the requirements of the law "do not impose unnecessary burdens."

"In the near future, the Department will provide more information on its review of existing regulations, as well as additional guidance and technical assistance," she said.

DeVos' appointment is seen as a "win" for Republicans who want ESSA to be implemented in such a way that gives states and local governments the most control.

Last year, ESSA architect Sen. Lamar Alexander sparred with former education secretary John B. King, Jr. over how the Department should be interpreting the legislation. One major point of contention was the Department's decision, led by King, to create the "supplement not supplant" regulation that has since been repealed after bipartisan criticism.

"I'm not the only one who can read the law. You're going to come against a coalition of groups, as broad as anything we have ever had in education, of governors, teacher's organizations, chief state school officers, who are tired of your department telling them so much about what to do about the 50 million children in the 100,000 public schools," Alexander said to King in April of last year.

Though Alexander subjected King to intense questioning during his confirmation hearing, Alexander has defended DeVos as a great choice for education secretary since her nomination was announced. This endorsement coupled with DeVos' recent letter indicates she will stay true to implementing ESSA as its architects had hoped.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

2/13/2017

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