Every Student Succeeds Act

Conservative Group Focusing on ESSA Expands Reach

By Andrew Ujifusa — November 01, 2016 2 min read
Former U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett leads a new group formed to push for accountability, high standards, local control, and school choice.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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

Conservative Leaders for Education, which formed in July to push for accountability, high academic standards, local control, and school choice under ESSA, officially announced Oct. 24 that it had signed up four state lawmakers and a state school board member as new members in five states: Alabama, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Joining the Roster

The new members of the organization are:

• Colorado state Sen. Owen Hill;

• Alabama state school board member Mary Scott Hunter;

• Ohio state Sen. Peggy Lehner;

• Wisconsin state Sen. Luther Olsen; and

• Nevada state Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury.

All are Republicans. And all, except for Hunter, are leaders of their respective legislative education committees. Including the members announced in July, the group can count nine total state officials as members.

In an interview, Bennett, the group’s chairman, said it wouldn’t be writing 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 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 from 1985 to 1988. “These are all people that are very committed to the issues.”

Bennett said he had discussed the group’s work with several well-known and like-minded players in the 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, is formally involved with Conservative Leaders for Education at this point, Bennett said.

The group’s expansion illustrates the jockeying going on to shape how states approach school improvement, transparency, and accountability under ESSA. The measure 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, but “in many ways, they have owned it.”

The National Education Association is pushing its members hard to make sure states don’t make just a few tweaks under ESSA and call it a day. And the union is 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.

A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2016 edition of Education Week as Conservative Group Focusing on ESSA Expands Reach

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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Classroom Strategies for Building Equity and Student Confidence
Shape equity, confidence, and success for your middle school students. Join the discussion and Q&A for proven strategies.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way
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
Professional Development Webinar
Disrupting PD Day in Schools with Continuous Professional Learning Experiences
Hear how this NC School District achieved district-wide change by shifting from traditional PD days to year-long professional learning cycles
Content provided by BetterLesson
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

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 Opinion 20 Years Ago, NCLB Kinda, Sorta Worked. That's the Problem
NCLB's political success gave rise to a more complicated reality of lax academic standards and public cynicism.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Every Student Succeeds Act Biden Education Department Approves One Request to Cancel State Tests But Rejects Others
Officials will allow D.C. to cancel tests. They denied similar requests from two other states and approved less extensive waiver requests.
6 min read
Image of students taking a test.
smolaw11/iStock/Getty
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