We can file this under “we told you so.”
The New York Times notes that states are surprised by the hard line that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education now has in their enforcement of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who made a career of promoting local control of education, has signaled a surprisingly hard-line approach to carrying out an expansive new federal education law, issuing critical feedback that has rattled state school chiefs and conservative education experts alike.
President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 as the less intrusive successor to the No Child Left Behind law, which was maligned by many in both political parties as punitive and prescriptive. But in the Education Department’s feedback to states about their plans to put the new law into effect, it applied strict interpretations of statutes, required extensive detail and even deemed some state education goals lackluster.
Apparently only the Federal government is capable of deciding what is ambitious. Is this the local control that U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and supporters of ESSA touted when pushing the bill?
The Department had problems with some state’s use of science assessments in their plan. Education Week reports:
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos got pushback last month when her team told four of the 17 states that have submitted ESSA plans so far—Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, and Tennessee—that their vision for incorporating science into their accountability plans didn’t pass muster.
It appears that DeVos has fully embraced the power ESSA gave her to approve state accountability plans and has no trouble with exerting federal control.
Perhaps if Congress were actually serious about returning control back to states and local school districts, they would pass a bill that truly does that.