President Barack Obama called it a “Christmas miracle.”
After nearly a decade of legislative gridlock, last Thursday the latest revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), became the law of the land. But how exactly will this new law ensure the success of all Connecticut students?
The new law replaces the previous version of ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act, which was heavily criticized (though not all of it justified) for granting the federal government power over regulating education policy. The new act transfers decision-making power back to the states at the cost of federal oversight.
As long as our state leaders maintain their commitment to the link the measurement of student achievement and the state’s teacher accountability system, we can keep the progress going in Connecticut public schools.
The status-quo has other plans.
According to Maggie Severns at Politico, the national teachers unions are on their way to spending nearly 3.7 million on lobbying the federal government this year alone and they are seeing results. It was no “miracle” that Congress authorized ESSA to leave teacher evaluations and educational standards up to the states.
Connecticut Education Association has already begun a campaign against key accountability, pledging that they will fight hard to decouple one of the only objective measures of student achievement from evaluations.
Though there is certainly more work to be done, Connecticut has seen a steady increase in graduation rates and a narrowing of its once largest in the nation Achievement Gap.
We can not move backwards on standards. In the words of the President and Director Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defence Fund Sherrilyn Ifill, “In order for ESSA to truly be a civil rights law, we must remain vigilant.”
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