The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), 359 to 64, on Wednesday. The bill, molded out of ESEA, reduces the federal role in education for the first time since the early 1980s, handing greater control over accountability and school improvement back to states, while maintaining and increasing funding important to schools.
It keeps in place the NCLB law’s transparency requirements—including annual testing—and focuses on helping traditionally overlooked groups of students and flailing schools.
Rep. John Kline, from Minnesota’s 2nd District, was instrumental and a key legislator to get a rewrite of ESEA as chair of the House Education Committee, and Sen. Al Franken was on the Senate HELP Committee and Conference Committee that reconciled the House and Senate rewrites of ESEA. Both voted for the conference report.
ESSA’s expected to be approved by the Senate soon. The White House issued statements strongly supporting the bill. Read more from the White House.
MREA supports ESSA and sent letters to the entire Minnesota Congressional Delegation asking them to support ESSA for the following reasons:
Putting America’s education on a firm foundation:
- Reauthorization is crucial to providing the schools of Minnesota and the nation with relief from current law, which is both broken and lacking in the flexibility states and local school districts need to support student learning and achievement.
- This proposal is a strong step in the right direction because it restores a more proper balance between federal, state and local government in public education.
- While this is not a perfect bill, but it gets far more right than it gets wrong, and our schools and students deserve a complete reauthorization and to be free from the limited, conditional nature of ESEA waivers.
Federal funding important to rural schools:
- The Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) that is important to students our smallest school districts are reauthorized with the language changes we support.
- Title II can be used for class size reduction with no limitations for this purpose.
- Both Title VI (American Indian Aid) and Title VII (Impact Aid) are funded with small increases in authorization. These programs are important to many of our members educating significant numbers of AMI students. 97% of Minnesota’s AMI students are in public schools, and 67% of them are in rural Minnesota schools.
Policy language important to rural schools:
- The conference report includes important language for rural schools directing the Secretary of Education to review the organization, structures and process and procedures of the Department of Education for administering its programs and developing policy and regulations, in order to assess the extent to which, the Department of Education takes into account, considers input from, and addresses the unique needs and characteristics of rural schools and rural local educational agencies. The Secretary would then have to determine how ED can increase the consideration and participation of rural schools and rural local educational agencies in the development and execution of the processes, procedures, policies, and regulations of the Department. This report would have to be published within 60 days of enactment.
- Language is included that allows rural LEAs to submit consolidated program plans through their ESAs. This is a tool that we are sure districts and Minnesota Service Cooperatives will look at to provide better service to students and faculty.
- The conference report includes Rep. Thompson’s (PA) Title I Study Amendment which would require the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Director to complete a study of the effectiveness of the formulas and weighting of formulas under Title I within 18 months. The goal of the report is to provide information on if funds are going to the neediest students, and evaluating the efficacy and equity within number and concentration weighting. This is important to our rural schools with high percentages of students in poverty, many of which serve AMI students.
Get Background and Action Taken: MREA’s Action Alert on ESSA
Explanation of ESSA: Ed Week Report
Read about the Vote: Ed Week Report on House Vote.
my ed week log on