Michael Petrilli painted a serene, but false, picture of where federal involvement in education will be in the next few years. Last week at Education Next, he wrote:
But peek around the corner, and the picture looks much different. ESSA plans will be approved, and states will go on their merry ways. The Trump Choice proposal will almost surely be DOA in Congress. The Office for Civil Rights will take a new tack, and that will be that. The Department of Education will go back to being a sleepy little agency. And at the state level? There will be perennial fights over funding, charter expansion, and the teacher pipeline, but what’s the next big issue to captivate lawmakers on the education front? There isn’t one.
This sounds nice, but I have not seen any education that Congress or the Trump Administration has any inclination to truly roll back a federal role in education. While there is a U.S. Department of Education there will be the potential to meddle.
There is still a hunger for student data. There is still accountability by the Feds over states. ESSA has still codified Common Core.
While ESSA is still the law there will be no true control for states in education. Unlike Petrilli, we shouldn’t be lulled into an alternate reality.