Civil and human rights organizations pushed back against Congress after the Senate joined the House of Representatives in using the Congressional Review Act to repeal a U.S. Department of Education rule finalized last year that would clarify states’ obligations under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued a statement Thursday, March 9, lamenting the Senate’s “ill-advised vote to repeal a critical rule and make ESSA more difficult to implement.”
“Yet even without the rule, the protections in the law remain in effect and must govern the approval of state plans,” Henderson said. “It is now incumbent on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to reassure students, parents, advocates, and Congress that ESSA will be executed consistent with the law and that robust federal oversight will provide meaningful protections for students.”
Henderson said that in a few weeks, states will begin to submit their ESSA plans to the department for review.
“We fully expect the department to take that role seriously and to approve only those plans consistent with the requirements of the law and the purpose of Title I: ‘to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps,’” he said.
The Leadership Conference and 45 additional organizations including American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Black Women’s Roundtable, National Urban League, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center and UNCF sent a letter to Congress urging members to preserve critical protections for marginalized students in ESSA implementation.
Liam Goldrick, director of policy for the New Teacher Center, said that upholding ESSA keeps the equity in education for all students.
“ESSA establishes the important expectation that students be taught to challenging academic standards,” Goldrick said. “To make this aspiration a reality, however, we must provide all teachers the job-embedded coaching and instructional support they need to make sure their students receive the high-quality education they deserve and ultimately become college, career and community-ready. Effective teachers empower students and achieve greater learning.”
Goldrick said that to create greater educational equity in the nation, it should be more than just words on a page.
“We need a committed federal government acting as a partner with states and school districts, providing a needed investment in schools and communities, and ensuring that every child has an excellent teacher,” he said. “Sufficient federal Title I and Title II funding is critical in targeting resources to students and schools with the highest need, developing and supporting our educators working in these schools, and enabling states to meet their ESSA commitments.
“Without these federal commitments and investments, students in under-resourced schools will continue to face an inequitable educational system and the work of educators will be made even more challenging,” Goldrick said.