ESSA Feedback Process Changed After Criticism

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Alyson Klein at Education Week reports that after criticism over how the U.S. Department of Education provided feedback to states that have submitted an accountability plan change was made to the process.

Klein writes:

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team have gotten big blowback for their responses┬áto states on their plans for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. State officials and even some DeVos’ GOP allies in Congress have said the department is being nit-picky, inconsistent, and going beyond the bounds of ESSA, which sought to rein in the federal policy footprint.

So now the agency is changing the process, Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the department confirmed. Instead of just sending letters to states on their plans, the department will first have two-hour phone conversations with states and go over any the issues that peer reviewers had with their plans.

If states are able to explain a potential hiccup to the department’s satisfaction, the department may not mention it in the state’s official feedback letter, which would come out after the phone call.

The new process seems designed to give states a chance to answer the feds’ questions about their plans before official feedback is made public.

Read the rest here.

Klein notes that the nine states that have already gone through the process may call foul. I think it’s too little, too late. Providing nitpicky feedback over the phone just changes the mode of how that feedback is delivered. It still represents federal overreach. The change still does nothing to “reduce the footprint” of the federal government meddling in K-12 education without a constitutional mandate to do so.

I understand that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos can’t ignore the law. States are still required to submit their state accountability plans. There is nothing in the law that says she has to reject any of the plans. She does have the freedom to approve them all. Scuttle the feedback teams, and bypass the Obama-era bureaucrats still working in the department. She should just approve them all regardless of what they say.

That action will prove she is serious about rolling back federal influence in K-12 education.