Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Every Student Succeeds Act

Conservative ESSA-Focused Group Led by Bill Bennett Expands Reach

By Andrew Ujifusa — October 24, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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:


Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
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
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
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

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

Every Student Succeeds Act Republicans Tell Miguel Cardona His Plan for ESSA Waivers Seems to Violate the Law
The Every Student Succeeds Act doesn't permit the education secretary to seek certain data he's asking for, the two GOP lawmakers say.
4 min read
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, left, listens as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, center, speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17, 2021.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, left, listens as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, center, speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17, 2021.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Every Student Succeeds Act How Will ESSA Hold Up During COVID-19? Pandemic Tests the Law's Resilience
Lawmakers designed ESSA to limit mandates covering issues like how tests are used. Will that affect how well the law survives the pandemic?
6 min read
Every Student Succeeds Act Betsy DeVos Tells States Not to Expect Waivers From Annual Tests
The tests required by federal law are crucial to helping schools respond to the coronavirus pandemic and help vulnerable students, the education secretary said in a letter to chief state school officers.
3 min read
Every Student Succeeds Act Top DeVos Deputy: Our 'Instinct' Is to Not Give States Testing Waivers Next Year
"Accountability aside, we need to know where students are so we can address their needs," Assistant Secretary of Education Jim Blew said during remarks at the Education Writers Association's National Seminar.
3 min read