As education plans for state schools are in the process of being finalized, the DOE attempts to assess concerns regarding states’ commitments to these laws, their plans to ensure disadvantaged students receive a quality education, as well as the DOE’s capacity and ability to pursue the policy.
The ESSA or Every Student Succeeds Act, allows states to be flexible in order to create educational systems that will suit each school’s unique needs. These plans will be examined by the DOE prior to implementation this year.
The process to which DeVos, Education Secretary, and the department officials will take to ensure the assessments has caused concern throughout the education spectrum. With this procedure nearing an end, some have become concerned regarding the overall plans suggested by schools and the Department of Education’s approval process.
“Secretary DeVos and her department are blatantly violating the current K-12 law we updated two years ago – they won’t follow the very statutory language this committee settled on,” stated Patty Murray, The Senate Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee’s top Democrat during initial remarks that took place in a hearing held on November 28.
Murray also stated that she was frustrated with the fact that states are ignoring a major part of this law which requires the identification of three specific areas of improvement for schools.
“But plans are being approved that violate this,” she noted. “If the department is ignoring the agreement we made in the law and just choosing to implement whatever it feels like – which I believe they are in their approval of state plans so far – then this committee needs to hear from the secretary about how she intends to follow the laws that Congress agrees to.”
These notions were echoed by The Education Trust during a recent review of these plans which discovered that stats have been floating equity responsibilities and have failed to identify and rectify low-performing institutions particularly those who educate many disadvantaged students.
“What we found is not encouraging,” noted the group’s researchers in their executive summary. “For all the lip-service given to the importance of equity in ESSA, too many state leaders have taken a pass on clearly naming and acting on schools’ underperformance for traditionally underserved students.”
Although DeVos approved education plans of 15 states as well as plans from the District of Columbia, she has noted issues with several other states that did not meet the necessary requirements.
As a federal mandate of only 120 days left for approvals, many states have to resubmit and revise their plans in which the DOE will then allow a short time frame to deny or approve finalized plans.