“So, is this new law good news or bad news?”
That was one of the many questions I heard earlier this month when the U.S. Chamber Foundation convened a national strategy session in Austin, Texas with chamber and business association leaders to talk about the federal government’s latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law in December 2015, and shifts most authority over education policy to the states in a number of areas, including accountability, academic standards and innovation. Thankfully partners, like the Foundation for Excellence in Education, have summarized the act and have made their reports available to policy makers and the public.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s time line, the remainder of 2016 will be devoted to rulemaking with new accountability systems set to take place during the 2017-2018 school year. The new law has created a tremendous opportunity for states to make greater gains in student achievement, especially traditionally underserved groups. However, for states like Florida, who have long championed education reform, the bipartisan act also allows for considerable backsliding.
And, there is no denying that special interest groups will use the states’ greater responsibility to roll back accountability measures and take our eyes off the measurable result of student outcomes.
So you can imagine that the answer to the good vs. bad news question is really a matter of what our state does with the additional autonomy. That’s why we need an energetic and informed business community to continue to shape our state’s education system so that every child has opportunities for success both in the classroom and in life.
If you are interested in adding your voice to our statewide discussion on the future of Florida’s education system, please call me at 850-521-1215 or email me at Kelekes@flfoundation.org.