Monday, February 15, 2016

How Wisely Will CCSD and SC Turn NCLB into ESSA?

Image result for every student succeeds act

The essay, bane of all high school English students (and sometimes teachers), popularized by Montaigne in the late sixteenth century, originally meant "trial" in French and later evolved to mean "attempt." In December, Americans received another attempt at "fixing" their local schools. Let's hope it doesn't become a trial also.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has replaced the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) despised by many who saw its testing and accountability standards as Draconian. Several commentators have pointed out how ESSA gives power over education back to local districts. While it is correct that school districts no longer must allow students stuck in failing schools to transfer, does anyone seriously believe that the new program loosens the reins on local schools?

There's a bridge in Brooklyn for sale. . .

Will you be startled to learn that Congress has passed another program without reading to see what's in it? Must be a habit now. Let's see how loose those reins are.

  1. Though states are not required to implement Common Core standards, the standards they do adopt must align with the same definition of "college and career" standards previously used to force states into Common Core.
  2. Career and technical education standards must align with the federal Workforce Education and Opportunity Act.
  3. States must collect non-academic data on students and families "attitudes, behaviors, and mindsets."
  4. ESSA requires that each state's accountability system be structured as the feds have written.
  5. Parents are no longer permitted to opt their children out of testing.
  6. No sunset provision means the program could proceed forever.
  7. ESSA expands the federal role in childcare while dropping work requirements for low-income families seeking grants.
  8. Et cetera
Some of these may be worthy goals; some, not. The overall effect will be federal intrusion into education well beyond what NCLB ever intended. Do you really trust federal bureaucracies to know what is best for local schools?

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