Alexander: Assume You Can Do What You Want Under ESSA

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Photo credit: AMSF2011
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Photo credit: AMSF2011 (CC-By-2.0)

Education Week reports this week about some interesting comments U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, made to Kentucky lawmakers.

“Don’t assume you can’t do anything,” Alexander told the lawmakers.

And in a similar vein, he said that if the Education Department rejects Kentucky’s state ESSA plan without a clear rationale, “You can take the department to court, and I hope that you do. I hope that you don’t have to. We’ll have a new administration [in 2017].”

Well, that’s nice, but the fact is states can’t just do what they want under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Any ambiguity, and there is plenty, is the fault of lawmakers who passed this bill rallying around leadership talking points instead of listening to activists expressing concerns as they read the bill.

That said, I do agree with his advice, states should try to push the envelope and then sue the U.S. Department of Education if it does deny their plans and reforms.