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Ed. Dept. Pulls Plug on Controversial ESSA Spending Proposal

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The fight over spending rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act has ended with now-former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. withdrawing a proposed regulation for a section of the law known as "supplement-not-supplant." The rule had strong backing in the civil rights community, but angered state chiefs, advocates for districts, and Republicans in Congress.

The proposal—withdrawn by the Obama administration just two days before it left office—was all but certain to be tossed by a GOP-backed Congress and the Trump administration.

In explaining the department's decision last week, Dorie Nolt, a now-former spokeswoman for the agency, didn't mention that looming threat. The department simply ran out of time to write a strong regulation, she said.

The department's draft rule, released in August,would have pushed for districts and states to make sure they were spending roughly the same amount of money—including for teachers' salaries—in schools that serve a sizeable population of poor students and in less-poor schools.

Civil rights advocates applauded the secretary for trying to fix what they saw as a long-standing problem when it comes to making sure students in poverty get their fair share of resources. But advocates for districts and states said the regulation would have been nearly impossible to comply with and could have led to unintended consequences, including forced teacher transfers.

If the department had put through a final rule on the issue, it would very likely have been subject to the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress to strike down new regulations that it disagrees with.

Vol. 36, Issue 19, Page 4

Published in Print: January 25, 2017, as Ed. Dept. Pulls Plug on Controversial ESSA Spending Proposal
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