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Teach for America CEO: Federal Government Involvement in Implementation of ESSA Is Critical

Teach for America CEO: Federal Government Involvement in Implementation of ESSA Is Critical

Many have praised the new education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act, for how it shifts away power from the federal government into the hands of state and local communities.

But some are concerned that the shift in power will result in states not being held accountable for ensuring that in-need schools receive as much funding and help as possible to improve.

One of those people is Teach for America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard, who speaks out as the federal role of implementing ESSA is considered.

There "must be critical federal guardrails put in place to ensure that states’ accountability goals include student proficiency, English-language proficiency and graduation rates, for example. It’s also why states must be required by the federal government to demonstrate transparent and accurate subgroup academic performance as we aspire to reach educational equity and excellence for all,” she said.

"While Washington should find ways to allow for and reward innovation at the state and local levels, it must also utilize all of its tools to make sure that the funding that flows through our public education system is supporting true college and career readiness for all children – especially those most in need.”

Potential future Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. agrees.

"King stressed repeatedly [during ESSA oversight hearing] that input from educators and other state and local education leaders will be a very important part of how the Education Department approaches developing regulations under ESSA and helping schools implement it,” said Education Week.

"But he also asserted the federal government's role in making sure that ‘guardrails' for struggling and disadvantaged students are followed, a key issue on which he said states and local districts did not always have a good track record.”

This was to the dismay of legislators who feel that the role of the federal government should be extremely insignificant.

"Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., chairman of the House's subcommittee on K-12, asserted, 'The federal government is in no way capable of knowing what works best for everyone,’” said Education Week.

"We must not forget that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which ESSA updates, is a civil rights law. It was enacted by President Johnson in 1965 and recognized that education is a civil right, critical to social and economic access. We must continue to ensure access to this right by maintaining critical federal protections while empowering states and local school districts to innovate and thrive,” said Beard.

Read Beard's full post.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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