Education

Conservative Group Pushes ESSA Agenda Among State Leaders

By Daarel Burnette II — October 24, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

This post was written by Andrew Ujifusa and originally posted on the Politics K-12 blog.

Amidst various players like the teachers’ unions looking to influence the Every Student Succeeds Act at the state level, a group led former Secretary of Education William Bennett is seeking to make its mark.

Conservative Leaders for Education, which formed last July to push for accountability, high academic standards, local control, and school choice under ESSA, officially announced Monday it had signed up four state lawmakers and a state school board as new members in five new states: Alabama, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

The five new members of the organization are:


  • Colorado Senator Owen Hill
  • Alabama Board Rep. Mary Scott Hunter
  • Ohio Senator Peggy Lehner
  • Wisconsin Senator Luther Olsen
  • Nevada Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury

All of them are Republicans. And all, except for Hunter, are leaders of their respective legislative education committees. Last July, the group indicated that they had signed up lawmakers from all these states, except Nevada, but didn’t name names.

During the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, our own Lisa Stark moderated a panel discussion about early education in which Lehner of Ohio participated. Click here to watch some of that panel.

In an interview, Bennett, the group’s chairman, said the group wouldn’t be developing model legislation. But he said the participating lawmakers would share bills they are working on, as well as thoughts on which policy approaches might work well in their states and which ones might run into problems. Conservative Leaders for Education, he said, is looking for “agents of policy change” in statehouses when it comes to ESSA.

“We’re going about this with all deliberate speed. We’re being very careful about the people we’re selecting,” said Bennett, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s education secretary. “These are all people that are very committed to the issues.”

Bennett said he had discussed the group’s work with several well-known players in the conservative K-12 policy world, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Thomas B. Fordham President Chester E. “Checker” Finn, and Center for Education reform founder Jeanne Allen. None of those people, however, are formally involved with Conservative Leaders for Education at this point, Bennett said.

The group’s expansion represents the jockeying going on to shape how states approach school improvement, transparency, and accountability under the law. Remember, ESSA gives state lawmakers significantly more power over those decisions than they’ve had in recent years. Back in July, Bennett said he was worried that not only do Democrats talk like they “own” ESSA, “in many ways, they have owned it.”

As we reported just over a week ago, the National Education Association is pushing its members hard to make sure states don’t just make a few tweaks under ESSA and call it a day. And they’re praising states that have adopted a “dashboard” approach to accountability that doesn’t require a single, summative rating for schools. (That approach might not get the approval of the U.S. Department of Education, however.) So it’s easy to find contrasts between the NEA and Bennett’s groups in terms of ESSA priorities.

You can watch members of the Conservative Leaders for Education discuss their views on education and ESSA below:


Don’t miss another State EdWatch post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox. And make sure to follow @StateEdWatch on Twitter for the latest news from state K-12 policy and politics.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Practices & the Construction of the Deep Reading Brain
Join Ryan Lee-James, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, with Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD., Vital Village Community Engagement Network; Neena McConnico, Ph.D, LMHC, Child Witness to Violence Project; and Sondra
Content provided by Rollins Center

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Hundreds of Conn. Bus Drivers Threaten to Walk Off the Job Over Vaccine Mandate
More than 200 school bus drivers could walk off the job in response to a vaccination mandate that goes into effect Monday.
1 min read
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk.
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk. <br/>
Keith Srakocic/AP Photo
Education Briefly Stated: September 22, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)