Republicans and the lost promise of local control in education

When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was enacted in 2015 to replace the hated No Child Left Behind law, the new legislation’s supporters trumpeted that, henceforth, control over education would reside with the states.

“With this bill,” Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRepublicans and the lost promise of local control in education Ryan seeks manufacturing muscle for tax push Overnight Finance: Ryan seeks manufacturing muscle for tax reform | Warren targets Wells Fargo board | Senators raise concerns over Russian takeover of Citgo | Pelosi hits GOP for budget delays MORE (R-Wis.) promised, “we are sending power back to the people.”

Candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump seeks tech’s help for government IT overhaul Republicans and the lost promise of local control in education Press: Worse than Nixon MORE ran on the issue of local control, and as president has directed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to restore it. She has promised to do so. “Let us continue to move power away from Washington, D.C., and into the hands of parents and state and local leaders,” she said recently.

But warning signs on the horizon indicate these promises are waning. First came news that the Department of Education may deny Alabama’s request to replace a student assessment that even the department admitted is problematic. Now Education Week reports that the department has told three other states — Delaware, Nevada and New Mexico — they must provide a slew of additional information before their mandatory ESSA state plans can be approved.


Much more of this local control, and the feds will have to hire new bureaucrats just to keep up.

Grassroots activists warned for months when ESSA was under construction that it didn’t restore state autonomy as its proponents claimed. The most glaring example of continuing federal control was the bill’s mandate that each state submit a “state plan” (actually a federal plan) describing in detail how the state planned to comply with…

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