We did a 10-Point Expert on this because it’s a bill designed to replace No Child Left Behind which barely anyone is talking about. Also it has nothing to do with Donald Trump, which for us is a major plus!
We got A LOT of emails asking us to do a 10-Point Expert on Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban.” Some said we had to do it because it’s a policy initiative brought forth by a conservative, which we were criticized that we don’t do that often, I guess? While others said we had to do it because they had to know if it was constitutional to do a ban of all Muslims that want to enter the US? Which we’ll save you the trouble of looking up the answer; it’s not constitutional.
Instead we decided to talk about an important piece of legislation that passed both chambers of Congress last week and looks to become into law; the Every Student Succeeds Act. It’s set to replace the federal education standard of No Child Left Behind, which would make it a HUGE DEAL which absolutely no one is talking about. So instead of breaking down the ramblings of a crazy business man, we decided to do a 10-Point Expert on the Every Student Succeeds plan. Because… you know… it’s actual legislation which we should be talking about.
Point 1: Some primer, back in 2001 Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act. It was intended to be standards-based education reform system that would help level the playing field for disadvantaged students through a set of federally mandated accountability standards. In other words, through standardized testing the federal government would figure out which schools were failing and use its resources (money, retooling of education curriculum, reorganization of school districts, ect) to bring all school systems to an acceptable education standard.
Point 2: It’s important to remember that fundamentally NCLB and Every Student Succeeds (ESS) are pretty much the same. Both education initiatives still deal with the idea of accountability through testing. Particularly in keeping the annual math and reading tests taken by students in grades third through eight that were originally introduced by NCLB.
Point 3: The biggest difference between NCLB and ESS is that the new education law drops federal accountability for schools. ESS gives that power of accountability back to the states. And just like that, every small-government conservative had this reaction to the new education law.
Point 4: Instances of drastic change to a failing school did improve its education standards (more on that in a bit), NCLB did fail to reach 2013/2014 goal of having every student read and do math at their appropriate grade level. That failure led to many vocal opponents denouncing NCLB initiative, which gave them a window to change fundamentally change NCLB.
Point 5: Many individuals ranging from Teachers Unions (“educators are being put at a disadvantage to reach classroom standards that aren’t realistic in some areas”) to conservatives (“the states have a better idea to fix their own school systems than the federal government does”) had problems with NCLB. While the popular opinion was that the education initiative was a failure, the truth is it was effective when major changes were made to failing schools (changing teachers and/or removing top administrators). With ESS however, that tool of accountability to make major changes is out of the federal government’s hands and into the state’s.
Point 6: While many conservative and state’s right proponents are thrilled with the measure, other have started to question whether the ESS education initiative could potentially give less accountability towards failing schools. Because now a scenario could surface of which failing schools in poor or minority areas could be ignored due to budget cuts or the state not being able to provide resources for the school to improve.
Point 7: The biggest contention with the new ESS initiative is that states can come up with wildly different standards for education and accountability. What could happen are varying education systems from a state-to-state basis. That would mean the education that an 8th-grader is getting in Tennessee could be vastly different than the education received from an 8th-grader in California.
Point 8: Whether the last statement is a positive assessment or not depends on who you ask. State’s rights advocates will say education systems have to be different from state-to-state because education standards isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. In other words, what’s best for school systems in Tennessee may not be the case for school systems in California. They need differing standards to best educate their students. While proponents of a comprehensive national education plan (like NCLB) would argue all differing state standards does is create a disparity between education systems between states. So a poorer state, with fewer resources, could have a worse education system when compared to a more prosperous state.
Point 9: The real question remains, what will states do to hold their education systems accountable? While proponents of ESS insist that eventually various state standards will lead to much higher standards than even NCLB had due to directly addressing resources on what those school systems need, only time will tell if states know what is better for their own school systems.
Point 10: Tucked away in the over 900 page ESS education law was also another provision that had seemed to fly under the radar. Sen. John McCain of Arizona slipped in a provision that a formal presidential pardon be given to the boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion. In 1913 under the Mann Act – a prostitution law that was used to prosecute individuals for having interracial relationships – Jack Johnson was put in prison for cohorting with a prostitute. In actuality it was his third wife and everything consensual from both parties but was punished because… you know… racism because the women was white. Even though this provision has nothing to do with education and Johnson passed away in 1946, I think this is probably one of the most benign provisions ever to be snuck into a bill. I guess what we’re saying is…
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